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Yahoo Opens Bandwidth Bottlenecks

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Storage Networking World -- If its the Jessica Simpson video from “The Dukes of Hazzard” movie that your customers are after, you want to make sure your storage, databases, and media servers don’t buckle under the load of 2.4 million hits a day, according to Ken Black, global storage architect for Yahoo Inc.

“When you’re serving video to 20 million customers per week, it can put a strain on infrastructure,” Black said during his keynote Wednesday, a rare moment of understatement at the otherwise marketing-rich SNW.

Yahoo, which Black claims is the world’s largest portal, has re-invented itself beyond its search roots. The company provides audio and video streaming for corporate and consumer users, offering .wmv, QuickTime, and mp3 formats among others; movie trailers; other advertising; and soccer tournaments. Yahoo can also conjure a flash crowd with two simple words: Victoria’s Secret.

But moving beyond its consumer base is a big part of expanding the company, which recorded $3.5 billion in revenue in 2004. Black said Yahoo’s corporate users now include Ford, General Motors, 20th Century Fox, MGM, BMG, Universal, Sony, Philips, and McDonalds.

Still, that growth has indeed strained the portal’s infrastructure. Its media servers were working with direct attached storage (DAS) that would feed disk-based content to Yahoo’s streaming servers. CPU issues and buffering problems were too common, and performance slowed to a glacial 30 Mbytes per second or less.

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