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Storage Love at eHarmony

Dating site taps startups and their technologies for maximum uptime and performance

SAN DIEGO -- Storage Networking World -- For a business that prides itself on making connections and projecting human warmth, eHarmony just gives storage professionals the cold shoulder. Don't have 'em, don't need 'em, said Mark Douglas, VP of technology for the Pasadena, Calif.-based company, with regard to dedicated, full-time storage professionals.

It's not because he's got nothing to store or back up. On a monthly basis, the coupling Website boasts more than 255 million page views and 45 million emails, not to mention 400 to 1,000 transaction per second. "The name of this talk should have been 'How We Manage 100 TBytes With No People,'" Douglas joked this morning at the conference here.

Data has grown 660 percent in the last two years, he said, without a trace of panic. But through a combination of NAS clustering, network switches, and data de-duplication, Douglas can also boast that the site's suffered no downtime. "We get leverage by using emerging technologies and emerging vendors," he explained. EHarmony uses OnStor NAS gateways, along with Force10 network switches. The site uses yet another startup for de-dupe, but since it only recently went live, Douglas declined to identify the vendor until he had more experience with it in his production environment.

Practical considerations dictated other choices as well. "I have nothing against SANs, but since we were starting from scratch, we didn't want to have to go out and gain the expertise," Douglas said. This was about the same time iSCSI was coming on strong, and while the Force10 switches weren't designed specifically for iSCSI, they proved a good complement. "They are incredibly high-capacity switches, it adds to port efficiencies, and almost acts like a switch cluster," he said, adding he'd like to see iSCSI with interfaces faster than 1 Gbit/s. "I'd love to get it all on fiber and have it all be IP."

In parallel, OnStor NAS gear provides 300 Mbyte/s, NFS/CIFS connectivity, and transparent failover, all of which give eHarmony plenty of room for scaling as needs change.

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