Time to Retire the Fail Whale?

Twitter Survives Explosive Weekend

Twitter's Fail Whale, once a symbol of unreliability, may be due for retirement. Thanks to server upgrades, the micro-blogging platform, famous for frequent crashes, survived the  weekend's double whammy of the royal wedding and Osama Bin Laden’s death without failure. That Twitter's competence was met with surprise—tweeters continue to express disbelief over the uninterrrupted service—shows how common the crashes were.

Last week Twitter jokingly posted a photo of founder Biz Stone labeling an entire server dedicated to the royal wedding. The server is pictured above three servers dedicated to Justin Bieber and one for Lady Gaga. While observers predicted the influx of interest during Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Friday wedding would “break the Internet,” Youtube, Twitter, and the websites of major news organizations managed to survive.

Then last night, Twitter became the inadvertent leading information source in the announcement of Osama Bin Laden’s death. News of President Obama’s pending announcement exploded on Twitter 20 minutes before it was confirmed by the TV networks. According to CNET, tweets per second hit 4,000 before and after President Obama’s 11:30 p.m. speech. That’s higher than levels during the 2010 NBA finals and just below levels during the 2011 Superbowl. It’s not Twitter’s highest volume, though. Just after midnight in Japan on January 1 this year, the company hit its all-time high of 6,939 tweets per second.

All of this is to say that Twitter’s server upgrade efforts in the past year have paid off. Twitter executives say the company invested heavily in infrastructure in 2010 to make the service more stable. In March, Reuters reported that Twitter had been experiencing problems with a new custom-built data center in Utah hosted by C7 Data Centers. As a result, Twitter moved its data to a different facility in California. Last month the company rolled out a new search function which it claims to be three times faster.