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Wine.Com Adopts SSDs to Optimize Online Retail Operations

Processing over 650,000 shipments per year, Wine.com is the largest online retail wine store in the country. Founded in 1998, the company has 100 employees and eight of them work in the IT department. Technology is the backbone of Wine.com's business operations, so in a natural technology progression matching its growth, Wine.com searched for a state-of-the-art storage system capable of handling its transaction processing, data warehousing and daily business requirements. It made the decision to migrate from conventional hard drives to flash solid state drive technology (SSD) in support of its mission-critical applications."When we first started in 1998, it was prior to the emergence of many modern Web technologies," says Geoffrey Smalling, Wine.com's chief technology officer. "We were a Microsoft shop. Everything we implemented was home-grown, and based on Microsoft .NET. Our backend processing was based on Epicor Enterprise Requirements Planning, and it was highly customized."Part of Wine.com's challenge is coping with the different state laws governing the sale of wine. Wine.com found it necessary to establish 10 separate data warehouses, which formed the back ends of 10 discrete online retail stores for 10 different states. "We are not in every state in the nation, but we do provide products for 80 percent of the country's wine drinking population," Smalling says.It was during the 2007 holiday season that Wine.com began to experience severe bottlenecks in its transaction processing. "We made it through the holidays by navigating through the bottlenecks, but it was very clear to us that we were experiencing serious I/O problems and that we had done all the tuning that we were able to do," Smalling says. "We approached our storage vendor for a solution and a quote, but the end result was such a major consulting project that we decided to look at other alternatives."Seeking performance improvement in transaction throughput and data backups and failover, Wine.com made the decision to become Fusion-io's first Windows customer. "We started conservatively with a proof of concept," Smalling says. "Initially, we were a little nervous. We were accustomed to using a SAN storage approach, and now we were going to replace that with a card in the Fusion-io architecture."

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