Interana: How to Manage Data Like Facebook

Interana’s software tries to organize info more efficiently

In 2006, when Facebook was young, the little piece of its website that keeps track of friends’ birthdays was “doing terrible things,” says Bobby Johnson, who joined the social network that year as director for engineering. A bug in the birthday algorithm had every Facebook user’s home page doing unneeded calculations, chewing up 30 percent of the site’s computing ability. It wasn’t the only time in those early years that he saw that kind of problem—a massive inefficiency that sapped Facebook’s processing power for weeks or months before somebody, on a hunch, ran some tests and spotted it. Johnson’s wife, Ann, learned how complex systems can break down while she was a product manager at Intel’s device physics lab.

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