Zenfolio uses IBM Cloud Object Storage to deliver picture-perfect customer service

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Zenfolio Cloud Object StorageManaging data storage can be hard for just one person, so imagine trying to do it for thousands of users.

With tens of thousands of subscribers regularly uploading photos and HD videos, Zenfolio’s on-premises storage infrastructure was becoming time-consuming to manage, difficult to scale and was fast approaching capacity. Making the move to the IBM Cloud unlocked practically limitless scalability and will save the company up to $1 million over the next three years.

Giving customers what they want

Amateur and professional photographers, from wedding to wildlife specialists, use Zenfolio to upload, display, share and sell their photos and photography services. The photo-hosting platform comes with prebuilt photo galleries to display work, as well as integrated marketing and e-commerce tools, including our “unlimited upload” promise.

Zenfolio currently hosts more than 2 billion images, which amount to around 12 petabytes of data. That number just keeps on growing. Our platform is becoming more popular, and more subscribers means more and more photos.

We had used on-premises storage infrastructure, housed in four separate data centers, for several years. But increasing data volumes and the physical constraints of those sites meant we were fast reaching the limits of our capacity. We were struggling to scale the storage environment to meet growing requirements, which made data center management a heavy burden on our IT operations team, not just in infrastructure maintenance, but also in the time spent on capacity and floorspace planning.

Releasing the pressure

We decided to move to IBM Cloud Object Storage because it offers practically endless scalability, without us having to procure and manage physical storage systems. Managing our existing on-premises storage was challenging. Adding new capacity to meet growing demand would make data center planning even more complex and put more pressure on our IT team.

IBM Cloud Object Storage represented the best of both worlds for us: cloud-level scalability and flexibility without requiring the time, effort and resources to procure and manage the technology.

To make sure this was the right decision, we ran a total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis comparing IBM Cloud Object Storage to competing cloud storage solutions. We concluded that it offered the best value, coming in at 45 percent and 33 percent more cost effective than competitors. In particular, IBM offered the best pricing for “cold vault” storage, where data is only accessed infrequently, which represents a large proportion of our stored data. Cold vault storage offers a great price per gigabyte, but data is still available in milliseconds if needed.

We’re working with IBM to migrate data from our on-premises infrastructure to the IBM Cloud; all 12 petabytes. The support from the IBM team has been excellent, helping us to maintain our existing infrastructure until the migration is complete. We’re also directing all new photo uploads to IBM Cloud Object Storage.

Checking all the boxes

Moving from on-premises infrastructure to IBM Cloud Object Storage will save Zenfolio considerable time, effort and money. We’re still running our on-premises solutions while we migrate the historical data to the IBM Cloud, but we’ll soon be able to shut down our data centers, which will generate huge savings.

We’re expecting data volumes to grow to 24 petabytes in the next five years. That growth would have been very costly and tricky to deal with using traditional, on-premises storage. We’re very happy that we no longer need to worry about procuring new infrastructure or floorspace planning or configuring and servicing storage systems.

Once the migration is complete, our IT staff won’t have to think about storage infrastructure at all. This will relieve the pressure on our lean IT operations team and free up their time to focus on delivering more value to customers. Knowing that all our data will be stored in secure IBM data centers that are staffed around the clock gives us complete confidence in the solution.

So far, we’ve been very impressed with IBM Cloud Object Storage and the support we’ve received. We’re now looking at how we can use the integrated Aspera high-speed data transfer feature to accelerate uploads, improve our service and become the first-choice hosting platform for photographers.

To read the full story now, check out the IBM case study.

Learn more about IBM Cloud Object Storage.

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