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Internet Week: What's Wrong With eBay?; Could Linux/BSD Clusters Fix It?

Jan 12, 2001, 14:25 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Mitch Wagner, Ted Kemp)

[ Thanks to Robert Pupazzoni for this link. ]

"EBay's persistent site failures stem from a lack of coordinated IT planning and a centralized database and storage structure that creates a single point of failure, insiders and experts say. ... The series of mishaps that led to eBay's 11-hour site crash on Jan. 3 was reminiscent of 15 similar outages between August 1998 and November 1999, including one in June 1999 that made the popular auction site unreachable for 22 hours."

"EBay uses Sun Enterprise Servers in tightly integrated clusters, which group servers using special software and hardware interconnects so that they appear to be a single system to the user, application and systems manager. That approach is easier to administer, but it's also more prone to breakdowns because servers tend to share central resources, such as an operating system and storage system, Kusnetzky said."

"Other high-traffic sites use more loosely integrated server farms, in which a large number of small, low-end servers perform identical functions in a redundant configuration. Search engine Google, for instance, uses 4,000 Linux servers that do searches and serve up Web pages in parallel, while Yahoo uses clusters of BSD Unix servers. If one server goes down, the rest pick up the load. The downside is that management is more labor-intensive, because each server must be administered individually."

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