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Ebay Timeline

As of 2008, eBay reported 85.7 million active users worldwide and were registering at least 260,000 new users each day.

System Specifications
  • Bandwidth (Why Medium?): eBay receives an exorbitant amount of traffic daily and has to provide its visitors with second-by-second updates on various goods and auction items. Because the information eBay sends out is frequent but relatively small, eBay only needs a moderate amount of bandwidth.
  • CPU (Why Medium?): The CPU is mostly used to power transactions, indexes, cataloguing, and searches on eBay’s website. eBay is a fairly static site, only displaying some images and a few links. eBay uses a fair amount in order to accommodate transactions and searches.
  • Disk (Why High?): eBay stores quite a bit of personal information from its millions of accounts. It also has to store an immense array of advertisements at any given time. eBay secures this data and ensures there is enough for everyone by providing a surplus amount of disk space.
  • RAM (Why High?): To give visitors a convenient shopping experience, eBay uses large amounts of RAM in order to pull up the products that best match the customer’s request quickly. The second by second updates which makes eBay famous also add to the large amount of RAM eBay requires.
  • Scalability (Why Medium?): The server architecture at eBay, although flexible, wouldn’t be ranked the highest in terms of scalability. It is able to handle the high traffic demands and can be altered to handle a spike in traffic, but is not as scalable as it could be. In February 2011, eBay announced it would be building its own private cloud. This should definitely push eBay to a high level of scalability.

Overview
Founded in 1995 by Pierre Omidyar and managed by eBay Inc., eBay.com is one of the best known survivors of the dot-com bubble. The online auctioning and shopping website has thrived, becoming a household name and a multi-billion dollar conglomerate with operations localized in over thirty countries. Although its services were originally tailored to enable individuals and businesses to buy and sell a sweeping variety of goods and services worldwide, it has expanded to include a “Buy It Now” option (as opposed to a “set-time” auction); shopping by UPC, ISBN, or SKU (via Half.com); classifieds (via Kijiji or eBay Classifieds); event ticket trading (via StubHub); and money transfers (via PayPal).

As of 2008, eBay reported 85.7 million active users worldwide and were registering at least 260,000 new users each day.

Features
One auction type that eBay offers is auction-style listings, which allows the seller to put up one or more items for sale for a certain number of days, which the seller specifies. The seller can also establish a reserve price, which will be the minimum or maximum price the seller will settle on.

The next auction type is the fixed price format, which allows the seller to offer goods at a Buy It Now price. Buyers can then purchase an item immediately without having to bid, assuming the seller’s listed price is agreeable.

Then there is the fixed price format with a best offer, which allows sellers to post an item and then accept or reject buyers’ best offers. The seller can also challenge a buyer’s offer by submitting a counter offer, much like market-place bartering. There are exceptions to this auction type, however, which require that sellers meet specific requirements and that the items are in certain categories.

System
Two years after eBay was founded, it hosted 2 million auctions in the month of January alone, while the entire year previous produced 250,000 hosted auctions on eBay. Its phenomenal growth has contributed to its vital need to expand its hosting environment in synch with its progress. In an interview with TechNewsWorld, Paul Strong explained that eBay’s server structure got its start in Pierre Omidyar’s living room, where eBay’s founder built three or four machines from parts.

Now eBay’s online presence and availability is supported by approximately 15,000 servers planted in four different locations across the globe, as of 2008. Because of eBay’s specialized needs, its application and management components needed its own software platform, as opposed to the general off-the-shelf servers it had been using for its operating systems, storage, and networking.

The software platform began as a three-tier application, which was initiated in two physical tiers that has since evolved into a set of massive, distributed applications required to keep at least 84 million users live and trading approximately $2,000 worth of goods per second.

Broken down, the infrastructure consists of three main disciplines: database/persistence, the auction platform, and the search platform.

Paul Strong also predicted in the 2008 interview that trends toward disaggregation and virtualization would continue, as it poses opportunity for greater flexibility, agility, and ROI.

The company is already implementing a standard of grid computing to deliver its services to millions of users, which will continue as grid computing evolves into the Cloud.

Sources

Baker, Pam. “Best Reuse Plays in SOA.” PCWorld. http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/149488/best_reuse_plays_in_soa.html (accessed November 28, 2010).

Baker, Pam. “eBay’s Paul Strong on Building the Data Center of the Future.” TechNewsWorld. http://www.technewsworld.com/story/eBays-Paul-Strong-on-Building-the-Data-Center-of-the-Future-63922.html (accessed Novemeber 28, 2010).

“Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on eBay Inc.” Reference for Business. http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/history2/44/eBay-Inc.html (accessed November 27, 2010).

“eBay Inc. Corporate Factsheet.” eBay. http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/EBAYPRESS/484421423x0x204060/29A0BEDF-A666-4654-B1E4-C1D6DDC294A8/eBayIncFactsheet.pdf (accessed November 27, 2010).

“eBay: The Making of the World’s Largest Auction Platform.” Success Principles Online. http://www.successprinciplesonline.com/business-success-stories/ebay-the-making-of-the-worlds-largest-auction-platform/857.htm (accessed November 28, 2010).

Maltby, Emily. “Has eBay hit its twilight?.” CNNMoney. http://money.cnn.com/2008/10/17/smallbusiness/ebay_twilight.smb/index.htm (accessed November 28, 2010).

Miller, Rich. “eBay’s Infrastructure and Cloudy Ambitions.” Data Center Knowledge. http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2008/07/29/ebays-infrastructure-and-cloudy-ambitions/ (accessed November 28, 2010).

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