LinuxWorld: eBay imparts datacentre knowledge

Imagine creating and managing a datacentre that handles 241 million registered users and sells a car a minute, an auto part every second, and a piece of diamond jewellery every two minutes.

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Imagine creating and managing a datacentre that handles 241 million registered users and sells a car a minute, an auto part every second, and a piece of diamond jewellery every two minutes.

Imagine a datacentre that changes its code every two weeks and executes 20 billion SQL transactions daily.

This was the subject matter of the keynote speech, Examples of Next Generation Data Centre Technologies at Work, delivered at the LinuxWorld/Next Generations Data Centre conference in San Francisco by Paul Strong, distinguished research scientist at eBay.

Strong led off his address by saying he preferred to talk about the next-generation datacentre in terms of the value it should deliver to the business rather than in terms of technology.

"Datacentres are about running business processes driven by SLAs," said Strong. And, he continued, datacentres can become "value centres" rather than cost centres when IT and business communicate.

To that end, companies must decide what is core to their business and what can be commoditised as a utility served up by a software as a service (SaaS) provider.

Sighting eBay's huge volumes, Strong described how its solutions will help future datacentre users scale their growing infrastructure.

In the case of eBay, it faced its biggest challenge back in 1999 when IT executives realised the database couldn't scale any further.

"The database was approaching the limits of physical growth," said Strong.

The resolution came about when engineers were able to virtualise the database by separating the interface from the implementation. The interface remained constant, but the implementation underneath it could change by decoupling the database.

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