Foursquare has been struggling with some obvious growing pains lately, as their servers are now processing 600,000 checkins per hour day. Their API has been up and down much of the past four days, preventing venue searches and checkins for many users.
In order to try and clear up some of the problems, Foursquare has scheduled some downtime from 5am to 7am EST tomorrow, May 18 (see what time that will be in your time zone). This will allow them to perform some much needed upgrades on their backend servers. During the downtime, users will not be able to check in or access the website.
These outages and upgrades come coincidentally as Foursquare starts the hunt for an operations engineer. Keeping up with their rapid growth has occupied much of the time of several of Foursquare’s staff (most notably Harry Heymann, who has lamented the loss of all his mayorships other than the local McDonald’s), so getting some help in this area is a priority to alleviate some of the strain on their small staff.
Other sites that have seen such rapid growth have also had their share of “growing pains.” Most notably, Twitter users often encountered the famous Fail Whale as that site struggled to keep its servers up and running.