Friday, January 27, 2017 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Flickr’s Year Without Buying Storage

Archie Russell (via Hacker News):

One of the largest cost drivers in running a service like Flickr is storage. We’ve described multiple techniques to get this cost down over the years: use of COS, creating sizes dynamically on GPUs and perceptual compression. These projects have been very successful, but our storage cost is still significant.

At the beginning of 2016, we challenged ourselves to go further — to go a full year without needing new storage hardware. Using multiple techniques, we got there.

[…]

Because we were concerned that further rollout of dynamic thumbnail generation would place a heavy load on our resizing infrastructure, we targeted only thumbnails from less-popular images for deletes. Using this approach, we were able to handle our complete resize load with just four GPUs. The process put a heavy load on our storage systems; to minimize the impact we randomized our operations across volumes. The entire process took about four months, resulting in even more significant gains than our storage threshold adjustments.

[…]

Running our users’ original photos through lossless compression was probably our highest-risk approach. We can recreate thumbnails easily, but a corrupted source image cannot be recovered. Key to our approach was a re-compress-decompress-verify strategy: every recompressed image was decompressed and compared to its source before removing the uncompressed source image.

Previously: Real-time Resizing of Flickr Images Using GPUs.

Update (2017-01-30): I don’t know whether this is related, but Flickr is now showing thumbnails from other people’s photos in our private album.

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