eHarmony Finds Own Fulfillment as Web 2.0 Pioneer

Case Study: The online matchmaker says it has reduced its administration time by 95 percent and avoids the complexity of a standard modular storage alternative.

eHarmony.com, that romantic cyber-space place where people meet and often get serious relationships off and running, has been a textbook example of a successful Web 2.0 company since it made its debut six years ago.

With more than 8 million users, Pasadena, Calif.-based eHarmony claims to be the Internets fastest-growing relationship service. It stores background text information for each registrant plus more than 9 million digital photos.

In the background, it has its own "secret sauce" matchmaking application to pair up registrants scientifically. Plus, it runs a number of other complex customer-facing applications that require extremely high amounts of bandwidth and storage capacity.

"We dont see the information flow slowing down anytime soon," eHarmony vice president of technology Mark Douglas told eWEEK. "We find ourselves having to buy storage about every 90 days."

Every 90 days? This equipment isnt cheap, nor is it exactly plug-and-play.

To accommodate this phenomenal business growth—which literally consumes gigabytes of new capacity each day—and to support its new-business initiatives, eHarmonys IT team found out about 18 months ago that it needed to design a heretofore-unseen flexible, consolidated storage network structure to replace its aging modular-array setup.

Load-balancing—the ability for incoming and outgoing data to be automatically directed to the first available server on a 24/7 basis—was a key requirement.

"The other solutions we considered had a learning curve and a level of complexity that we just didnt want to undertake," Douglas said.

"There was going to be a lot of hands-on work to do with our six years worth of data. We wanted a more automated system, for sure."

After considering modular array alternatives from a conventional vendor that Douglas declined to name, eHarmony selected a 3PAR InServ S400 Storage Server for each of its data centers. 3PAR Thin Provisioning software was also chosen for use with eHarmonys databases.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about 3PARs SAN/NAS offerings.

OnStor, of Campbell, Calif., provides the NAS (network-attached storage) gateways that sit in front of the 3PAR storage arrays. CommVault provides all the redundant backup, Douglas said.

3PAR also provides key parts of the MySpace.com storage infrastructure—another highly successful, new-generation social networking site.

Next Page: Working well together.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he...