Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Santa, you'd better watch out!

So, holidays are coming up and web-based services are preparing for that.

Jared Leavitt from Access Communication (QuickBase PR agency) dropped me a link to an interesting case study: SantaBase - Holiday Management Application. But I must say if this case study was for real, our holidays would be in danger. Why? Just consider this:

Here I’ve found out in 2006 there were 73.3 million children under the age of 18 in the United States.

Well, is QuickBase capable of such data amount processing within one table? I guess no. Unfortunately I can’t check it using my trial account and it would be really great to get an official response from QuickBase.

But since I check everything in practice I tried to import in my app the maximum quantity of records it was possible. I imported it as 20 000 records at one setting, and trying to do it the 4th time I’ve got such an error:

This is my Application Statistics:

So, can Santa afford such an application?

The case study doesn’t show us the exact way how kids register their orders in QuickBase:
"Thousands of bags of mail containing letters to Santa could be eliminated (saving millions of trees) as children logged directly into QuickBase to update their gift wish list."

For better understanding of what is going to happen, you can simply check QuickBase pricing here.

If each child is registered user in this SantaBase App, Santa should get ready to pay not less than:

$249 / Month + 36500 packs of 2000 users * $5,000 / Month = $182,500,249 / Month

Even in case all kids log their requests from Santa's official site and he won’t register such quantity of users, it is neccessary to pay for 73.7 million of records saved in QuickBase anyway:

$249 / Month + 2920 packs of 25000 records * $100 / Month = $292,249 / Month

I don’t think Santa can afford it, especially now, in such difficult times.

I bet no product I’ve tested can solve Santa’s problem right now and offer him an appropriate solution.

Who can argue with that?!


  1. Happy Holidays Jane!
    Santa is indeed a unique case study. While most companies don't have the unique burden of tracking 73.3 million customers, QuickBase has seen a 136% growth in enterprise customers last year, so we're supporting large companies pretty well.
    Thank you for fact checking my story. It was fun to write and I was laughing too much to worry about all the details.
    Chris at QuickBase

  2. Jane,

    Two things to remember - Santa doesn't have to pay for each child to submit. He can use the "Everyone on the Internet" role, and give them add permission, but no view permission.

    Also, we do have non-profit discounts available, so Santa's cost is surprisingly reasonable.

  3. “Everyone on the Internet” role also has its issues to solve. For example, the kid can change the mind and the order as well, but there is no way to reflect it in the app. It’s only possible to add the new order. And how Santa is going to handle order duplicates?

    My point is that even in case Santa uses the app for free, QuickBase (and other web-based services I’ve tested too) is just not capable of handling of such data volume, that’s it.

    Yes, we can create Holiday Management Application for McDonald's Corporation employers using QuickBase, but come on, one can’t deploy the program for all US citizens, simply because the system is not developed for such data volume.

    I think QuickBase is a good solution for apps with 1 000 users and handles well not more than 100 000 records per table.

    By the way, maybe you could specify the average and maximum number of records per table for your enterprise customers?

    QuickBase is really good enough, but as everything in this world has its limits and is not the master key for literally all cases.

    But, as I’ve already mentioned, I think none of tested services can satisfy Santa’s needs.

  4. Jane,

    TeamDesk largest customer's application stores more than 6,000,000 order positions in a single table. There is no pricing problem as we price per user, not per number of records. However we needed to perform some manual analysis and optimization in order to maintain stable performance over such an amount of the data, as application not only queries the data but also performs aggregate calculations.

    I can't tell for sure how TeamDesk would behave on 77M of records. Though for Santa I would split all orders into a smaller sets, based, say, on a state; orders for each state could be stored in separate table.