#ScaleFAIL: The Greatest Danger for Early Startups

August 16, 2013 - by Rachel Balik

Recently , the Verge published an article called, “Expect Delays: Why today’s top apps are putting you on a wait list.” It discussed why some of the most hyped-up new apps of the past year have been unable to accommodate their much-desired flood of new users. The problem is that these apps run on the cloud, and it’s nearly impossible for their founders to predict user behavior pre-launch.

As Gentry Underwood, CEO of the popular app Mailbox, told The Verge, "Two hundred and fifty [beta testers] is a decent data set, but when you increase that several orders of magnitude you find edge cases." When Mailbox launched in February and had to put users on a waiting list, most of them were none too happy, and the backlash on the web and social media was fierce.

For users who are accustomed to getting things quickly, any delays are a deterrent. As annoying as it is when things are slow to load, being put on a wait list feels extreme. But these startups argue that it’s simply impossible to predict what will happen, and glitches are unavoidable. The problem has grown because more and more apps rely on the cloud, and as founders explain, no amount of bug testing can prepare a company for a spike. The challenges are even greater when the app involves writing to a database.

While we all understand the challenges, you can’t very well explain them to your users - or potential users - and expect compassionate understanding. Many of our customers experienced that first hand, but ultimately decided to choose a cloud provider that was prepared to handle traffic bursts.

Learn more about how our customers are using Joyent to scale here.