In the midst of corporate chaos following Elon Musk’s purchase of the social media site, Twitter is considering shuttering its California data centre.
The New York Times reported that four people with knowledge of the company’s strategy said that Musk was thinking of closing the SMF1 data centre in Sacramento, California.
Should this happen, the company would divide data and processes between the two remaining Twitter data centres in Portland, Oregon and Atlanta, Georgia. This could have an impact on the company’s ability to offer services without interruption, particularly during periods of high traffic.
This is of particular concern now, as the World Cup is expected to drive high traffic to the site, which could result in reliability and continuity issues.
There has been a lot of interest – and speculation – around the company since Elon Musk’s purchase was finalised. Just one week after, 50% of the company’s workforce was subject to a mass layoff.
Then, last week, the remaining employees were offered the opportunity to resign with severance or stay and build ‘Twitter 2.0′. An estimated 1200 employees – about a third of the remaining staff – resigned from their positions at that time.
Twitter actually had a test run of how the company would operate without the Sacramento data centre a few months ago. In September of this year, extreme heat in California resulted in a total shutdown of operations at SMF1. At that time, Vice President of Engineering Carrie Fernandez warned that the company was in a non-redundant state, explaining that while the Atlanta and Portland data centres were still operational, ‘If we lose one of those remaining datacenters, we may not be able to serve traffic to all Twitter’s users’.
To ensure continuity without the SMF1 data centre, Twitter blocked all non-essential updates and deployments until the data centre was back in service.
Aside from the potential closure of one of the three primary data centres in the United States, the recent staff cuts have raised concerns about Twitter’s ability to provide reliable services to all users. For example, a 20-person team known as the ‘Twitter Command Center’ has been slashed between layoffs and resignations. The infrastructure architects, called ‘core services’, is now comprised of only four employees. Prior to Musk’s takeover, it numbered more than 100.
These concerns are related to basic platform functionality – they don’t even begin to address issues with content moderation or data security.
Cybersecurity analyst Graham Cluley recently tweeted: “It’s time. Delete your Twitter DMs. Deleting your DMs doesn’t stop Twitter storing their own copy, but does reduce the ways in which they can screw up and leave your private messages exposed.”