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Convergent Roads Diverge

BURLINGAME, Calif. -- StoragePlus -- Successful data center and storage consolidation require companies to take a hard look at their environment and employ a flexible approach, according to users on a CTO panel here at StoragePlus.

For Michael Schaffer, CTO of online book and music seller Alibris, the challenge was to start with a shoestring budget and then upgrade to a full SAN as the business grew.

Working with partners such as Amazon,

Barnes & Noble, and
Borders, Alibris offers more than 60 million titles and sells more than 10,000 books a day. With that many titles and thousands of vendors, Schaffer says changes in price and inventory could bring up to 10 million records that need updating daily.

"Our business is transaction intensive and data heavy," he says. "We chew up our storage and CPU." Schaffer says Emeryville, Calif.-based Alibris couldn't afford a SAN at first so it spread its databases over multiple servers.

"That worked well for cost control, but it didn't work well for keeping our storage unified," he says. His large data sets and intensive applications strained the I/O of his SQL Servers, with never enough spindles or disk space to handle it all in the Sacramento data center.

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