Wayne Rash, December 10, 2008, 11:40 AM
January was looming. Mike Geis, director of IS operations for Lifestyle Family Fitness, knew that he'd better be ready. In the fitness center business, January is like Black Friday in the retail business. Because of the combination of holiday excesses followed by New Year's resolutions, fitness centers do huge amounts of business in January.
The problem was that Lifestyle Family Fitness had grown to 56 fitness clubs in Florida, North Carolina, Indiana, and Ohio. All of them used Web-based applications hosted at the company headquarters in St. Petersburg, Fla. Without an upgrade in performance, the surge in registrations in January would hit the company's data center like a tsunami. Geis knew that by January, he had to make sure his data center could meet the performance needs of his users at their busiest.
"We don't have raw terabytes we have to store," Geis says. "Our issue is performance, our application response was poor. Our end users saw poor performance." Geis knew the cause of the problem: "Our storage subsystem was the bottleneck."
Initially, Geis approached vendors about simply getting more disks as a way to spread out the storage traffic. IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) "came in with storage virtualization," he says. "It has a lot of front-end cache. It's like a performance engine for I/O. Virtualization wasn't the primary reason we chose this, but we're enjoying the benefits."