Building homegrown storage resource management (SRM) tools has helped New England's major provider of digital subscriber lines (DSL) to grow and to maintain its flagship business-Web hosting. Based in Boston, HarvardNet offers the standard choices for Web hosting. An entry-level service includes a minimum of 20MB of disk space on a shared server. When customers outgrow this service, they can rent a dedicated server. The third option is for users to rent floor space for their servers in a HarvardNet data center, and manage the servers themselves.
For the entry-level service, HarvardNet uses its own disk utilization tools on Windows NT systems to monitor file growth on disk drives, and on Unix systems to monitor the file system. Quotas set on each customer's disk space help to control growth. As customers hit their quotas, they can expand their storage for an additional fee.
For the dedicated server service, monitoring server availability is more critical than looking at disk space growth, according to Brian Durkin, HarvardNet's systems engineering director. However, Durkin says that customers now demand more in-depth information, such as how fast data gets on and off the disks, and how fast the CPU processes database transactions.
However, HarvardNet isn't ignoring the issues of storage growth and capacity or customers' other requirements. In fact, Durkin says, "We're looking at advanced monitoring tools to handle our capacity planning management."
HarvardNet's expansion plans include a 50,000 sq. ft data center in New York, one in Philadelphia, and a third possibly in Washington, D.C. Durkin says, "To support the DSL and Web hosting businesses, we want to move to a storage area network with a common platform for managing servers and storage. Until then, we'll continue to augment our homegrown tools."