Running a network the size of Facebook is a major engineering feat, and the social network has revealed one of the tricks it uses to keep things running smoothly. Rather than relying on a single conventional database, Facebook uses a system called The Associations and Objects distributed-data store to serve up data on an as-needed basis. The TAO architecture, which juggles thousands of data types, more than 1 billion read requests and millions of write requests per second, is similar to the systems used by some intelligence agencies to handle their data stockpiles, Jordan Novet writes.

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