Comcast serves 30+ million mailboxes with greater flexibility and resilience

The solution has been a valuable addition to the company’s evolution toward a cloud-scale, software-powered infrastructure

Comcast Corporation is an American telecommunications conglomerate that provides services to U.S. residential and commercial customers in 40 states and the District of Columbia. It’s the second-largest broadcasting and cable television company in the world by revenue, the largest pay-TV company, the largest cable TV company and the largest home Internet service provider in the United States. Comcast is known for creating technology and entertainment that connects millions of customers, giving them instant access to the things that matter most — anywhere, anytime.

The challenge


Comcast’s objective was to substantially increase email storage capacity. An email storage environment of this size has unique characteristics and, therefore, requirements:

  • Massive scale — Billions of objects and multiple petabytes
  • Relentless workload — High-churn small and large files
  • Complex application and data relationship — Geographically distributed users, data availability and durability requirements

Prior to 2013, Comcast was running email server application Zimbra 6 and storing email using a block storage SAN (storage area network). They used hierarchical storage management (HSM) to migrate and manage the data across a complex arrangement of five tiers of storage.

The company was looking to move forward with a multi-phase transformation toward a more cloud-driven, stateless and efficient infrastructure. Scality was able to help support an important component of that work.

“The Scality RING solution helped achieve continued reductions in price-per-gigabyte and price-per-IOPS costs.”

Andrei Gasheyev, Internet Services Architect, Comcast

The outcome

Comcast’s move to a new storage solution involved consultation and experimentation with the Scality team to strike the best balance between all of their goals. For example, an early deployment was done on smaller servers with 10x3TB data drives, with a later expansion on higher density servers from a different server manufacturer, with 15x4TB data drives. Ultimately, Comcast deployed hundreds of data servers with a mix of 3TB and 4TB SATA drives in multiple data centers paired with Scality’s connector for Zimbra 8.

Maintaining a balanced system and creating a stateless system

When Comcast added capacity after its initial deployment, creating a heterogeneous hardware environment, they wanted to rebalance mailboxes and data based on server capacity and capabilities. After implementing the new solution with Scality RING, Comcast is now better able to move mailboxes to balance out the system and infrastructure.

Moving forward, Comcast is working to further automate processes so that mailboxes automatically balance themselves in near real-time. In its previous SAN environment, a significant amount of data had to be moved to achieve this, which increased the chances for errors to occur due to being more susceptible to corruption, fragmentation, or failure. Comcast has found that with Scality RING, these operations are significantly easier and involve less risk. Mailboxes can be moved and balanced with little to no data movement.

Since going into production in 2013, Scality’s RING storage solution has been a valuable addition to Comcast’s continued evolution towards a cloud-scale, software-powered infrastructure. Using Scality technology, Comcast has made its email system more flexible, resilient and high-performance, creating a better product for customers, while also realizing operational efficiencies and cost savings.


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