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Devang Tomar
Devang Tomar

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Pinterest’s Epic Journey from 10K to 22M Users with Just 6 Engineers πŸš€πŸ€―

Once upon a digital epoch, Pinterest, the image-centric social network, defied all odds by skyrocketing to 11 million users with a lean team of only 6 engineers. Fasten your seat belts as we unravel the enthralling saga of how Pinterest triumphed over scaling challenges, embracing both triumphs and stumbles in its quest for digital dominance.

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The Pinterest Odyssey Unveiled 🌌

In the enigmatic year of 2012, Pinterest proudly flaunted its 11 million monthly active users, achieving this feat with a mere half-dozen engineers. This saga began in March 2010, where the pioneers launched with a single engineer and a small MySQL database. The journey was fraught with lessons, a mix of innovation and simplicity.

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The Art of Scaling - Lessons Learned 🧠

1. Proven Technologies Rule πŸ›  : Pinterest adhered to the wisdom of using known technologies, steering clear of the pitfalls of diving into uncharted waters.

2. Simplicity Triumphs 🏰 : A recurring theme in their journey - keeping it simple. Complexity was the villain they vanquished at every turn.

3. Scaling Wisdom πŸš€ : Pinterest's decision to add more of the same nodes to scale, avoiding unnecessary creativity, was a pivotal move in their playbook.

4. Database Dances πŸ’½ : Sharding databases took precedence over clustering, optimizing data transfer and steering clear of potential pitfalls.

5. The Joy of Engineering πŸŽ‰ : Engineers at Pinterest weren't just coders; they were contributors from day one, infusing the spirit of innovation into the company's DNA.

Pinterest's Architectural Evolution πŸ› 

As the months rolled by, Pinterest's architecture evolved. From a basic web server stack to embracing Django for their backend, they navigated the maze of growth with agility.

The Misstep in Over-Complication 🀯

In the race to accommodate their rapidly growing user base, Pinterest hit a snag. Their architecture became an intricate tapestry woven with five different database technologies, causing chaos.

  • Membase (Now Couchbase)

  • Cassandra

  • Elasticsearch

  • MongoDB


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Cluster Management Nightmare : Clustering complexities led to data corruption and unfixable problems. Pinterest's solution? A bold move to stick with the proven: MySQL and Memcached.

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Simplification Triumphs in 2012 πŸ†

Come January 2012, Pinterest, now handling a staggering 11 million users, had undergone a transformation. The architecture was streamlined, shedding less-proven concepts for robust alternatives.

Pinterest's Simplified Stack πŸ—

  • Amazon EC2 + S3 + Akamai
  • AWS ELB (Elastic Load Balancing)
  • Flask for backend
  • MySQL, Memcache, and sharding took center stage.

Manual Sharding Mastery 🧩

The art of manually sharding databases became Pinterest's forte. During the freeze, they incrementally and manually shard databases, removing table joins and embracing caching.

The Pinterest Sharding Symphony 🎢

  • Feature freeze

  • Incremental and manual sharding

  • Unique constraints maintained in a colossal, unsharded database

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A Leap to 22 Million Users in 2012 πŸš€

October 2012 marked Pinterest's ascent to 22 million users. The architecture remained the same, showcasing the power of replicating what works and scaling it up.

Consistency Amidst Growth πŸ”„

  • Transition to SSDs
  • Limited, proven choices for stability
  • EC2 and S3 - a duo that stood the test of time.

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Pinterest's Database Wizardry πŸ§™

Unveiling the secrets behind Pinterest's database structure, the unique 64-bit ID structure, and the art of tables.

ID Structure Magic 🎩

  • Shard ID, Type, Local ID - A 64-bit symphony orchestrated for scalability.

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Tables Unveiled πŸ“Š

  • Object tables for pins, boards, comments, users
  • Mapping tables for relational data
  • Say goodbye to JOINs, embrace efficiency.

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Conclusion : The Pinterest Legacy Continues 🚒

Pinterest's journey is a testament to the delicate dance between innovation and simplicity. From the pitfalls of over-complication to the triumphs of proven choices, their saga is an inspiration for every tech pioneer. As we bid adieu to this riveting tale, Pinterest stands tall, a beacon in the digital wilderness.

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Top comments (2)

artxe2 profile image
Yeom suyun

Transaction processing in the sharding method mentioned at the end of the article seems like an interesting topic.
Is there a detailed explanation about it?

devangtomar profile image
Devang Tomar • Edited

Yes please refer to the original showcase from Pinterest engineers :