Things that don't scale well

May 27, 2021
Some things that don't scale well: Databases. Dev teams. Monoliths. Microservices.

Yesterday I introduced the concept of diseconomies of scale. This raises the natural question: “What are some examples of things that suffer from diseconomies of scale?”

I’m sure there are countless, but here are a few I’ve been thinking about lately:

  • Databases. Even the most scalable databases have limits, usually well under the order of hundreds of nodes. Many popular databases start to see diminishing returns where n > 1.
  • Software development teams. Even the famous 2-pizza team is often considered too large.
  • Monolithic code bases. These often turn into big balls of mud
  • Microservice architectures. Come to think of it, microservices often aren’t much better.

What would you add to this list?

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