Smoke Past: to create this year’s Instagram

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In 2010, we released the first version of Instagram night before, and I bet the first day of co-founder Kevin about how many people have downloaded this App. Kevin guess there are 2,500 people, I was particularly optimistic about the big bet, and bet 25,000. The next day, I could not believe my guess exactly right.

Today, on the occasion of the fifth birthday Instagram, we have 400 million users from around the world, 80 million copies of them to upload photos and videos every day. Looking back, we have the first generation of products will get done right in the simplicity and delicate equilibrium. At the same time last year, we recycled re-create the “search & find” (Search & Explore) function, released a new private sharing “Instagram Direct,” such as “Layout” creative puzzles such tools have emerged.

Over the past five years, our team has been (thankfully) to grow and progress, we adhere to abide by our creed: simple things first, it is also the core of the next five-year plan. Here I will review the structures Instagram since the past five years, some of the most important milestones – there are good and bad, as well as unexpected. I hope some of the lessons here to help you create your own team and the company to grow.

Milestone 1: 1 million users to unlock the first three months of Achievement

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Archive: The biggest challenge

The horrors of the first month on the line can not bear to look – often 3:00 bleary-eyed to open the screen, above the server information police followed. Since the first day of explosive attracted 25,000 users, the number continued to grow rapidly until it unlocks one million achievements.

Please look at the brain make this scene: People eager to rush to use your product! There is no any better than this horn can inspire morale, so we open the 996 model to ensure that we can withstand the increasing access requests. When we started with only one server is located in Los Angeles, its performance is not like a desk Macbook Pro. When I called the host service provider, according to the requirements of the growth of our first day and then purchase a server, they replied four days turnaround, full speed, then they have to 48 hours. Given our growth seems unfathomable, we decided to move to the Amazon AWS cloud servers go above.

Since we both inexperienced underlying system architecture, we can only do everything to devour relevant knowledge. In the above QCon and Velocity have great video conference, as well as articles from Facebook, Netflix, Twitter and other companies. Sharing of technical knowledge, open source culture is one of the best things we have in this line, it is our main driver update maintenance log.

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Dry summarize: our creed, “a simple thing to do first,” born out of the early years.

Because only two of us fought side by side, so whenever we face new challenges, we have to use the fastest and easiest solution. If we claim to perfect the attitude of every thing that we are likely to perish in the inaction. By finding the first problem to be solved, and choose the simplest solution, we have the ability to prop up our exponential growth.

Milestone 2: Publish Android version Instagram

Archive: The most popular will publish

Instagram released in the first few years, Kevin and I will be on stage every time asked the same question, “Android version of the application in the end when will it?!”

We started from the iOS version – simply because we want our products to achieve rapid iteration – after all, we only have two engineers. When entered after 2012, it is time to expand to other platforms of different. Our App Android version of Instagram also typical style, Philip led the three engineers do within three months out, two of which Andrews developed or sold off now. Philip is when we develop another software Gowalla Android version App added, until today he still leads Instagram’s mobile.


Because we want on as many Android phones test our App, upsets and even a Huawei phone “M865 Ascend II 2 Touch”, so sometimes I incarnation as “eBay buyers crown.” Most of the time, new phone hot ass not to sit at the desk, we immediately removed the express boxed our semifinished App commissioning and operating results for the App of praise. Broad product line of Android devices that we face a number of challenges – particularly when we develop Instagram video capabilities – but the final version of the Android App achieve stable operation on how so many mobile phone without the need for a these models make special modifications, have to say too much to force.

Andrews version of the line just 12 hours, the amount of users exceeded one million – eager response of really incredible. It was at that time, I wrote several articles on the underlying system architecture design articles. Passage of time, Instagram Android version to use more like native apps, and now it has also become the fluency, the highest score of Android applications.

Dry summary: starting from a single platform allows us to iterate quickly sink in the heart, and without the burden of compatibility (we often say in Instagram house “has to be realized”). When extended to multiple platforms, we set up a new to Android development with deep skill of talented engineers, led by a small team.

Doo turn cross-reference, the fledgling Android development team will make us closer to the native application.

Smoke past: to create this year’s Instagram

Milestone 3: 2012 Virginia Storm

Archive: The most serious emergency situation

2012 in a weekend, I was in Poland on vacation, when the phone rang buzzing: ” I rushed to the Internet to do the test and found that not only Instagram – Netflix is down.” and other sites have been lying gun. I open the laptop back to the hotel, on the AWS cloud server status page a terrible message impressively in the head: “Electricity supply interrupted the eastern United States.” A huge storm howls from Virginia, and swept away more than half the power of our servers. The next 36 hours has become a rebuild almost the entire underlying system battle. Behind the clouds only happiness line is this spawned a viral picture:

“INSTAGRAM not open! What you eat for lunch? On the phone with my description of you!”

At that time, our entire team from my own back-end technology, we first engineer Shayne composition and Rick, Rick joined Instagram less than a month’s time. Fortunately, there is no loss of user data, but this time we have exposed many unexpected pit needs to be filled in the underlying system architecture automation.

The accident came to our faces a loud bang on the ear in mind, we need to find a process server configuration can be reused.

The following year, we unstable shell script to migrate to a full Chef system, which significantly reduces the new team members to use the underlying architecture of the threshold.

At the same time, we no longer rely on Amazon’s persistent data block level storage volumes Program (Elastic Block Storage), replaced by WAL-E and Postgres home WAL shipping replication scheme. We have also built a reliable cross-data center, which makes Instagram data to be distributed to different storage locations.

Dry Summary: erection of an automated script underlying architecture requires a lot of preliminary work, but this is a lucrative, new engineers will be able to quickly integrate into the project itself, the other can do so meritorious in emergencies situations.

Also, I’m glad we hired a point-to-point skill engineers – when we have before us such an appalling mess, Shayne and Rick are immediately roll up their sleeves and began to pack up, this unexpected encounter, comparable to ” Mars rescue. ”

Milestone 4: server migration –Instagration

Archive: The most engineering Top Gun

October 5, 2010: 0 users

October 6, 2010: 25,000 users

November 2010: 1 million users

2012: 3 million users

2013: 200 million users

In 2013, when we have 200 million active users, more than 20 billion photos stored on the server. Although the whole team in the expansion, but the scale is still small, everyone for the continued growth Instagram community was overjoyed.

At the same time, we want to be with Facebook to integrate existing back-office systems – for example, their Site Integrity systems is essential in helping us to resist the intrusion of spam. But in the Amazon AWS cloud server consolidation it will be very difficult to do this, but the longer we, that increasingly large migration of the underlying system will become increasingly difficult.

We migrated to Facebook’s back-end system is a virtual certainty, but we want users and hundreds of millions of photos without interrupting the operation of the migration of millions of dollars. So we started Instagration engineering, or I prefer to describe it as a step to 100 degrees when the car makeover. A team of eight from Instagram and Facebook engineers to build a common network, and then use their own construction called Neti tool to Instagram to migrate from EC2 Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Virtual Private Cloud) on. Next migrate our systems and tools, including the use of a “ig” command-line tool, in order to build a new data center FB similar AWS development environment. Eventually we took the minimum price completed the large-scale migration.

Dry Summary: Do not re-create the wheel. By migrating to Facebook’s servers, our back office systems run faster, more efficiently, but also can use other tools such as Facebook, such as anti-spam.

Use of resources and experience of Facebook and ITKING.ORG we do not need row knife enrollment becomes bloated, making action more maneuvering.

Milestone 5: Instagram’s “Trends”

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Archive: The next big bet

Earlier this year, we “search & find” (Search & Explore) This function has been improved, making it easier on Instagram can find interesting things happening in every corner of the world. We introduced the “hot tag and place”, and set up a new mechanism for screening and sorting filtered to give the essence of Instagram users recommend.

The first time we “Trends” released in 2010, began trying Instagram, then uses a “popular” (Popular) page. The whole algorithm is simple: calculate the number of each photo thumbs up, cleared every 4 hours. When our community scale is still relatively small, this algorithm is very easy to use. But as time goes on, we realize that we need a more nuanced algorithm.

Given the huge size of the community, we are committed to “discover post” in 2014 (Explore) personalized features, it is displayed for each user-generated interest appetite, unlimited drop-down to view photos and videos. And non-tailored “posts found” compared to the proportion of our customers within a few months to interact with the content of the five-fold increase. This year, we do with the initial “pop” concept (Popular) page re-debut, and upgrade it to “trend” (Trending) – which can quickly scan the entire contents of the above Instagram. With the sorting and machine learning experts have added, we increasingly have the ability based on a complex algorithm to generate a more personalized “trend.”

Dry summary: Simple things first solution does not mean you can once and for all. We have learned of the product evolution progress keep an open mind, targeted to the establishment of the team – such as our data science team, in order to cope with the rapid expansion of the Instagram community.

Over the past five years for many of us it is an exciting wild trip. In Instagram 5 birthday occasion to stop and look back reflection is excellent. I am confident that our community will continue to grow, our products to the next level in the Medium never missing “I look back over the past decade,” such an article. Let us for the next five years Cheers!