The factors that initially led Ferry to ONStor were the company’s reputation for manufacturing gateways that consolidate file services on multi-vendor storage, and the fact that there were no hidden fees or charges for its services. "We didn’t want to be tied to a specific vendor, and the costs were upfront, so ONStor seemed like the right choice," Ferry says.
The product that Ferry selected for MyPhotoAlbum was the Bobcat 2260 NAS gateway. Ferry chose the Bobcat because of its is high scalability and vendor-neutrality. Server performance and storage capacity using the Bobcat can be scaled independently to keep pace with MyPhotoAlbum’s rapidly changing storage demands. Because ONStor NAS gateways are interoperable with a broad range of storage arrays, MyPhotoAlbum is free to choose the storage that best fits its business needs, eliminating vendor lock-in. MyPhotoAlbum began with 10 TB of Wincester storage; it added 28 TB of ONStor’s Pantera storage on top of that. ONStor hopes that as MyPhotoAlbum continues to grow, the company will continue to purchase Pantera storage, but MyPhotoAlbum will always have the option of integrating storage products from other vendors.
The deployment enables six Linux web servers to access 40 TB of storage via the Bobcat 2260, supporting one million page views per day. The back-end storage consists of two Nexsan ATABeast arrays with 14 TB of capacity each deployed in a mirrored configuration.
The system features a single pane of glass that allows users to monitor performance, as well as manage all virtual servers and storage. It also includes a web-based user interface that allows users to manage all three storage appliances and virtual servers. The design of the ONStor Graphical User Interface (GUI) incorporates drag-and-drop ease to simplify tasks and speed learning.
All of the requisite software for functions including NSF and CIFS protocols and disaster recovery is built into the Bobcat gateway. For disaster recovery, the ONStor product provides integrated snapshot capabilities that allow MyPhotoAlbum to maintain point-in-time images to guard against deleted or corrupted files. Optional ONStor Mirror data replication software provides replication to a remote ONStor NAS for data archiving or disaster recovery purposes.
MyPhotoAlbum’s transition to the ONStor system was as painless as Ferry could have hoped. "When the Bobcat unit shipped," he says, "we’d never really talked about the installation procedures. We were supposed to have a technician come out and do it for us. But when the box arrived, I realized that it was straightforward enough for me to install myself." When Ferry called ONStor tech support with a follow-up question that afternoon, he says even they were surprised that he had already installed it, and that he had done it on his own. While ONStor touts the ease of installation of the Bobcat gateway, and most installations are brief and minimally invasive, it’s not often that a client takes the initiative to install the product himself. The transition was so efficient that the MyPhotoAlbum site did not experience a minute of downtime.
"It’s great when you are immediately able to administer the system by yourself," says MyPhotoAlbum photo director Hanley. "We set it up without depending on anyone else. In every way, we have taken this piece of our business and put it in our own control."
The effects of MyPhotoAlbum’s transition to the ONStor Bobcat NAS are virtually invisible to the site’s users, and that’s just how MyPhotoAlbum wants it. The seamless integration of ONStor technology has allowed MyPhotoAlbum to continue serving its customers without so much as a blip on the radar.
"It works," Ferry says conclusively. "We have very little downtime. All I have to do when I need more storage is order another shelf. In an hour, I have another seven terabytes of available space. We will continue to grow, and as we do we will continue to work with ONStor."