Simon Willison’s Weblog

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How Figma’s databases team lived to tell the scale (via) The best kind of scaling war story:

"Figma’s database stack has grown almost 100x since 2020. [...] In 2020, we were running a single Postgres database hosted on AWS’s largest physical instance, and by the end of 2022, we had built out a distributed architecture with caching, read replicas, and a dozen vertically partitioned databases."

I like the concept of "colos", their internal name for sharded groups of related tables arranged such that those tables can be queried using joins.

Also smart: separating the migration into "logical sharding" - where queries all still run against a single database, even though they are logically routed as if the database was already sharded - followed by "physical sharding" where the data is actually copied to and served from the new database servers.

Logical sharding was implemented using PostgreSQL views, which can accept both reads and writes:

CREATE VIEW table_shard1 AS SELECT * FROM table
WHERE hash(shard_key) >= min_shard_range AND hash(shard_key) < max_shard_range)

The final piece of the puzzle was DBProxy, a custom PostgreSQL query proxy written in Go that can parse the query to an AST and use that to decide which shard the query should be sent to. Impressively it also has a scatter-gather mechanism, so "select * from table" can be sent to all shards at once and the results combined back together again.