Innovative Internet Radio Service Sings Praises for Red Hat Storage’s Superior Management of Data, Scalability, and Substantial Cost Savings

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April 4, 2012

Slacker Radio needed a highly scalable, high-performance storage solution to handle its significant growth rate, while also meeting budgetary confinements. Red Hat Storage provides Slacker Radio with the high reliability and availability needed to seamlessly scale to meet growing business demands.

Customer: Slacker Radio

"We are confident that choosing Red Hat Storage has given us a better storage environment while also cutting our costs by 80 percent." Liam Slusser, Systems Engineer, Slacker Radio

Industry: Tech Online
Geography: North America
Country: United States


Business Challenge:

Slacker Radio needed a highly scalable, high-performance storage solution to handle its significant growth rate, while also meeting budgetary confinements.

Software:

Red Hat Storage

Hardware:

Supermicro Chassis and Seagate desktop hard drive

Benefits:

Red Hat Storage provides Slacker Radio with the high reliability and availability needed to seamlessly scale to meet growing business demands.

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Background:

Slacker Inc. launched in 2007 and has over 30 million listeners today. It offers the world’s most complete range of radio content, including the award-winning free Slacker Basic Radio and fully-loaded subscription services like Slacker Radio Plus and Slacker Premium Radio. Listeners are provided with a unique and custom listening experience through the Slacker web site via connected home devices, or on-the-go with Slacker Personal Radio applications for mobile devices. Slacker gives access to artist biographies, album reviews, and station fine-tuning, allowing listeners to choose between newer or classic tracks, popular or fringe, and allows users to customize the songs and artists on their playlists, if desired.

Business Challenge:

Highly scalable storage at low cost

Slacker Radio has millions of tracks, and each track is transcoded into nine different formats. With all those formats--plus nearly a hundred million images--Slacker’s storage requirements were pushing it over budget. Slacker currently has over one petabyte of raw storage under management with two storage arrays. The larger of the two manages over 280 terabytes of storage and carries all master files that are sent from record labels. The other database is responsible for Slacker’s content delivery network (CDN), which manages 160 terabytes of transcoded audio.

In order to meet the growing storage demands of its ever-increasing library of music, Slacker was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to reach its performance needs.“Our data grows constantly, averaging an increase of about 60 terabytes every six to nine months, causing a huge strain on our budget and making it nearly impossible for our necessary expansion to match our budget requirements,” said Liam Slusser, systems engineer at Slacker. “We were searching for a storage solution that could give us the reliability we required, but was also extremely cost-effective and easy-to-use.”

Solution:

Red Hat Storage enables a high-quality listening experience

In the beginning of 2008, Slacker began looking for an open source storage solution that would lower costs without compromising its existing storage system. After researching various file systems, the organization quickly realized other solutions were not as easy to use as GlusterFS, now a part of Red Hat Storage, and would require too many changes to its existing architecture.

“When looking though possible solutions, we noticed that file systems, such as Lustre, required far too much hands-on management,” said Slusser. “With Red Hat Storage, the interface was extremely familiar and we knew anyone with Linux knowledge would be able to use it. After testing for a few months, we were able to clearly see that it was the solution that best fit our environment and budget.”

To give users a high-quality listening experience, Slacker selected Red Hat Storage to meet its ever-increasing demands for scalability, ease-of-use, and cost savings. The company currently deploys 440 terabytes of storage across two storage arrays, using Supermicro Chassis and Seagate desktop hard drives.

Benefits:

Storage is easy-to-use and manage, saves dramatically on cost

With the elastic scaling capabilities of Red Hat Storage, Slacker is now able to add and retrieve files more quickly and efficiently than before. Listeners constantly tune in and request new music be added, and with Red Hat Storage, Slacker is able to seamlessly add new audio files. The steadfast reliability and stability of the system provides the Slacker IT team with the necessary confidence, knowing music is available 24x7 for its listeners. By leveraging an open source approach, Slacker is able to deploy exactly what it needs to roll out new services.

“Our goal at Slacker is to provide our millions of listeners with the best listening experience possible and in order to do so, we need to ensure we select the right technology to store our music,” said Slusser. “Red Hat Storage delivers the reliability we need to make sure our files are easily managed and delivered. We are confident that choosing Red Hat Storage has given us a better storage environment, while also cutting our costs by 80 percent. It’s the ideal solution that supports our growth without breaking our budget.”

Red Hat Storage is also extremely easy to use and requires very little time to manage. Users can quickly build a secure, thin-provisioned, multi-tenant, scale-out storage system. Its simple, user-friendly interface enables all employees within the IT department to perform tasks when necessary.

“Red Hat Storage is extremely familiar to anyone with Linux knowledge so it did not require additional training or hiring on our side, which helps keep our costs in check,” said Slusser. Additionally, Red Hat Storage has enabled Slacker to dramatically save on costs, and redistribute that budget to other areas of the organization. Moving to Red Hat Storage from its previous storage providers, Isilon and EqualLogic, saved Slacker over half a million dollars. This allows the company to invest in other key infrastructure areas, including network and server upgrades.

“Storage used to be the most expensive thing we were doing and now it is the cheapest; that is priceless to us,” said Slusser. “As we grew, the upkeep for our previous storage was simply too expensive for our budget. With Red Hat Storage, we were able to completely replace and upgrade our storage system while also being able to buy new hardware since our last storage solution was proprietary. We’ve since not only decreased our spending, but also massively increased our storage capacity from 78 terabytes to 440 terabytes.” GlusterFS is the software-only, scale-out storage system at the core of all Red Hat Storage offerings. It allows enterprises to combine large numbers of commodity storage and compute resources into a high-performance, centrally managed, and globally accessible storage pool.

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