Demonic deployent: U.K.’s largest ISP replaces existing storage with cache-based systems

Demonic deployent: U.K.’s largest ISP replaces existing storage with cache-based systems – Internet service providers

Chris Bucholtz

Caching will receive a major endorsement today when Demon Internet, the largest Internet service provider in the United Kingdom, announces its intention to replace its network storage systems from various vendors with those from Network Appliance.

The companies will work together to install storage and caching equipment and improve the systems. Under the agreement, Demon will market Network Appliance’s software to its customers.

Caching–or storing frequently accessed data on storage devices positioned in central offices, data centers and points of presence (POPS) close to the end user–has been gaining momentum in recent months. Demon’s decision represents a significant opportunity to show how effective the approach can be at maximizing network assets, according to Rich Boberg, senior director of Internet marketing at Network Appliance.

“This decision is a testimony to the cost-effectiveness of the cache approach,” Boberg said. “It was based on business needs, not on technology–although the technological approach Demon is taking will make management quite a bit easier.”

Demon’s use of a single company’s storage devices eliminates the need for the ISP to integrate a variety of legacy systems into its other customer service and support systems. The decision also gives the ISP one company to call for support, Boberg said.

With 155,000 active users and an average of 10,000 new users each month, Demon provides Network Appliance with a useful real-world laboratory to both perfect caching and demonstrate that the & technology can scale easily.

“This technology can help Demon stave off having to add another T-3 line by helping them maximize the assets they’re already purchasing.” Boberg said. “That represents a major savings, and it can allow service providers to grow in numbers of subscribers without breaking the bank for new lines.”

“A lot of ISPs can benefit from what caching can bring, both from the standpoint of making the users’ experience faster and better, and from the carrier’s perspective of using their assets in a more intelligent and cost-effective way” said Robert Gray, research manager for storage subsystems at International Data Corp., Framingham, Mass.

“A customer like Demon can demonstrate quite concretely how useful this can be, regardless of the size of the ISP,” he said.

The nature of caching also will provide Demon with a system that is easy to manage as the service provider expands. Because caching devices work without the need for administration, service providers only need to install more devices as their networks grow, according to Gray.

In terms of implementation, U.S.based ISPs could find it even easier to implement a caching strategy than Demon, Boberg said.

“Demon uses a system of virtual POPs,” said Boberg. “This information comes into a single data center, which means all of Demon’s caching will be done at the data center. That’s different from the domestic approach, but it means that ISPs in the U.S. would have an easier time realizing how this approach could yield a savings in bandwidth.”

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