Balancing the online load

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-02-08 Print this article Print

It is a patented, first-of-a-kind, horizontal-scaling solution for the problem of commercial Web sites that slow down or crash due to peak loads, Bozzo said.

The company has achieved its far-reaching success through a program of rapid growth and the acquisition of new brands, Bozzo said.

Today, regardless of any increase in order volume, the online load (which represents three-quarters of the company's sales) is balanced, as each customer is automatically routed to a Web site that can provide a quick online experience. The customer is served product and account information as needed, and order information is linked to's back-end order processing and fulfillment systems.

Four years ago,'s IT infrastructure utilized 100 percent direct-attached storage, Bozzo said.

"These arrays were difficult to monitor or repair, or to expand at a fast enough pace to keep up with the rapid increase in both data and the number of new companies we were acquiring to grow the business," Bozzo said.

"Adding more storage in the old environment meant significant down time, was very costly, and slowed processing as production CPU cycles were used to perform tasks such as striping and data mirroring. Storage utilization on the direct-attached arrays was only 50 percent, making it necessary to add new storage more frequently."

Click here to find out why online shoppers take longer to buy.

In addition, there was no effective data classification strategy-old data was archived in the same place as current production data, slowing data access and availability. As a result of all these factors, the IT department struggled to provide services demanded by the business, Bozzo said.

When decided to go with EMC as its storage supplier, the system capacity was expanded from 40 terabytes to 70. The company now maintains three production SANs in the United States , including five EMC Symmetrix and 15 EMC Clariion networked storage systems, which are optimized using EMC ControlCenter storage resource management (SRM) software. also uses EMC 's TimeFinder software to locally replicate information to support its business continuity strategy, increase application availability and reduce scheduled downtime.

Overall, the new storage systems improve performance, reliability and manageability, Subramanian said.

Backup windows also have been significantly reduced, he added.

"For example, one 700GB database used to take 12 to14 hours to backup to tape libraries over a weekend, with the database down the entire time," Subramanian said. "Today, backing up that database to disk takes only 30 minutes, a 96 percent reduction in backup time. In fact, we would need three more IT staff people to manage their environment if running on direct-attached arrays."

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel