EHarmony living out a storage-project dream

Hey, storage pros! What if you were given a blank slate upon which to create a storage system for a rising, successful dot-com heavily involved in supporting user-generated content? What storage solution would you design?

That was the project facing eHarmony's vice president, technology, Mark Douglas, who presented here at Storage Networking World today. In April of 2005, eHarmony's storage needs were contained in 1TB. Two years later, the online dating and relationship company, launched in 2000, has an online storage capacity of 100TB.

To master its storage needs, eHarmony went with iSCSI wherever it could, fibre-channel where it needed it, using a utility storage approach with NAS gateways and high-end network switches that allow plug-in expansion. The system eHarmony selected uses thin provisioning to automatically allocate just enough storage capacity for application requirements, eliminating the need for planning and tuning. The solution is delivering throughput at around 60K to 70K IOs per second, Douglas says. There's no need for a storage area network.

Douglas selected cutting-edge storage products from storage vendors who began their businesses this decade, such as 3PAR, ONStor and Force10. While admitting this was risky, he says "the leverage we've been able to get [with these smaller vendors] has given us better returns." Douglas adds that the total cost of ownership is lower.

That's not a surprising claim, either given that eHarmony has no dedicated IT resources supporting its storage system, which is completely self managing. Douglas notes that eHarmony's redundant storage infrastructure has experienced no downtime whatsoever for two years.

So eHarmony is an example of what you could do if you weren't saddled by legions of legacy systems. Well, back to the real world now.

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