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eBay Digital Service Efficiency dashboard provides data center metrics

Agencies can learn from eBay data center dashboard

The Office of Management and Budget might want to take note: Online mega auctioneer eBay has developed a new system of metrics that can reveal how even subtle changes in its vast data center and IT operations can affect the cost of a single online auction.

According to eBay, the dashboard-type system can show how many kilowatt-hours of energy eBay data centers use to process an auction; how many auctions it runs per server; or revenues per kilowatt hour of energy consumed.

Should the company want to know how many metric tons of carbon dioxide it used per transaction, the system could show it.

The micro-metrics are the product of a methodology eBay has developed over the last 18 months called Digital Service Efficiency (DSE) that allows the company to map the interconnection of performance factors that support its business services. 

eBay says DSE provides a miles-per-gallon-type of measurement on its data center operations, IT infrastructure or carbon footprint. DSE “dynamically tunes [eBay’s] infrastructure engine by systematically exposing the multi-dimensional knobs that developers, engineers  and operators can turn to optimize all layers of the infrastructure stack,” according to an eBay white paper on the project.

“Tuning these variables in tandem is like solving a Rubik’s Cube,” the paper’s authors write. “Imagine each color as representing an independent variable (for example cost, performance, environmental impact and revenue), yet each is dependent on the others. It’s easy to solve the same color on one side of the cube independently, but solving all sides at the same time is difficult.”

“We can see more clearly now than ever before that our designs, purchases and operating decisions have real, tangible effects on the key indicators important to running a business: cost, performance, environmental impact and, ultimately, revenue,” the authors said.

While DSE is based on eBay operations, the methodology can be adapted to other organizations and data center operations.

Agencies have been pursuing energy efficiency through data center consolidation and other measures. Even the world’s largest supercomputers are using low-power architectures.

Technology such as DSE, which provides fine-grained metrics on power use, could help further those efforts.

Posted by Paul McCloskey on Mar 08, 2013 at 9:39 AM


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