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Auntie on the Couch



Enda Farrell discusses how CouchDB is used by BBC for some of its websites, presenting the context it is deployed in, the operations performed against it, how replication and compacting works, some statistics, and how it is used at scale.


Enda Farrell is a software architects working on the new technology platform used by BBC, being employed in 2006 to lead one of BBC’s main content management systems. Previously, he worked as an engineer and architect at Sapient for 9 years.

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Recorded at:

Aug 19, 2010

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Community comments

  • Auntie on the Couch

    by Stephen Devonald,

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    This is a very good overview on the benefits and pitfalls of implementing a cutting edge technology.

    I feel, however, that there is an implicit lack of understanding between the challenges faced by counterparts in SME companies and the luxuriously padded BBC development team. The scale of staffing, software, hardware, and data centre budgets renders almost meaningless any comparison or exemplar of technology uptake available to the 90%+ not securely under the BBC's guardianship.

    At leat two telling disconnects for me were:

    1) The presenter felt able to risk the production environment with a procedure immediately prior to his 4 week skiing holiday (what's that?) in order to ensure he didn't come back to a broken database (wow! I could never have done that)
    2) The presenter seemed proud of the single digit millisecond response on the site (even when they had to do things that halved it - lots in reserve). I am absolutely certain that I could provide similar service with the BBC data centre/hardware/network specification, regardless of whether I had made the same "intelligent" choices of software and configuration as the presenter.

    This presentation may have been interesting, but it is not the real world as most of us know it.

  • master-master-master replicator

    by Igor Kolomiets,

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    It would be very interesting to hear about design of their replicator (multi-threaded java app is not very descriptive :) since it seems to be a core element that made their KV store architecture around CouchDB so successful.

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