This year in tech (like almost every other year) has been filled with buzzwords. Many of them this year, however, are based around big data processing and web content: NoSQL, Hadoop, BigTable – the list goes on. With all the fuss around these new technologies, one might be tempted into thinking that these are the technologies of the future, and that from now on our servers and websites will be built upon, leaving technologies like LAMP in the dust. Is the venerable LAMP stack going to go extinct in the face of all these new technologies?
First off, there are things that the LAMP stack doesn’t do well – that’s the very reason some of these technologies were invented, in order to handle the processing of big data more efficiently. As many a beleaguered sysadmin knows, sites that explode in popularity very quickly more often than not face problems with scalability with the LAMP stack. MySQL’s scaling difficulties are one of the hallmarks of the system, and the difficulty of properly scaling relational databases was one of the primary reasons for the development of technologies like NoSQL and Hadoop.
That said, there are things that the LAMP stack still does very well – in fact, much better than NoSQL and Hadoop. Both of those technologies are meant to address the question of large-scale development, deployment, and rapid scaling: as a result, they’re very poor at fielding small and even medium-sized websites. Anyone looking to design and deploy a website for a small business or startup that doesn’t expect large amounts of volume would have absolutely no reason to implement a NoSQL solution that would ultimately be far more complex and costly than a simple LAMP stack.
As is always the case with these sorts of questions, the answer of whether or not the LAMP pack is still strong is one that varies depending on the use scenario. The LAMP pack is most certainly still strong when it comes to websites that are small-to-medium in size and can run efficiently on a single web server and SQL server. In fact, this is what it excels at – NoSQL and Hadoop were created to address its deficiencies, namely its inability to scale very well to extremely large websites and data sets. Like any other tool, the LAMP stack is still extremely useful at what it does: serving small to medium sized websites reliably and with a relatively inexpensive and simple start-up cost and implementation.
Tools are most effective when used for their specific purpose: in the same way you wouldn’t use a power drill to hammer a nail, you wouldn’t use a NoSQL / Hadoop implementation to serve a small or medium business website. That being the case, the LAMP stack is still going very strong, and it’s definitely still extremely viable in small and medium-sized deployments; there are no signs of it waning in that regard, and I’d expect it to be a standard deployment for many companies and organizations for quite some time to come.