eBay says this data center will showcase the best and most innovative thinking in green data center design, technology, construction and operation, and Triple Pundit asked Mazen Rawashdeh, VP Technology Operations, eBay Inc., to fill us in on all the details.
Triple Pundit: Does this new data center represent new capacity, or will it consolidate other eBay data centers?
Mazen Rawashdeh: The new center is being opened as part of a corporate-level, four-year data center consolidation strategy that is moving us from a handful of co-located data center facilities – largely space that we rent from data center providers – to space that we own and can manage to the highest standards in both cost and environmental efficiency. In short, it’s a consolidation strategy. Our business model is unique; we know the rhythms and availability requirements that are specific to eBay’s platform. By designing an environment for our data and compute power – both in terms of physical data center, hardware and software infrastructure that goes into it – we can innovate and manage it in the most efficient way possible. The facility in Utah will host the core technology that runs our business – including the eBay.com marketplace, PayPal and some of our adjacencies, including StubHub.com and Shopping.com.
3p: Why was it important for eBay to incorporate green data center design at this facility?
MR: It is the right thing to do. Green data center design at the core of our overall commitment to environmental responsibility at eBay. We understand that our business model represents a relatively light footprint, compared to other types of companies – as an internet company, we don’t have a complex supply chain, operate energy intensive manufacturing facilities, or even have bricks-and-mortar locations with individual carbon footprints. The electricity used to manage data at eBay comprises over 60 percent of our overall carbon footprint, making it the company’s biggest environmental liability, and our biggest material impact. Having a better understanding of our carbon footprint and compute capacity allows us to identify high-impact efficiency projects that help us to conserve resources – both natural and financial.
3P: What are a few of the most innovative green features of this new data center?
MR: At eBay, we see our data centers as ecosystems; they provide the physical space that houses a more comprehensive way of looking at compute infrastructure (IT) and data management across the company. The physical infrastructure is definitely important, and to that end, the space itself is intended to be highly sustainable, with many details such as using a chemical-free condenser water treatment system and capturing rainwater to irrigate landscape. We are tracking to a LEED Gold certification.
But that’s only one piece of the puzzle. The rest of it, and where we see huge opportunity for innovation, is in not only the technology that sits inside the data center, but the way we manage that technology. We always “search for synergies” that help us unlock innovation. The synergies between things like a higher utilization enabled by parallel efficiency, 24-month cycle leasing hardware to lower costs, and technology refresh to leverage Moore’s law enable eBay to increase compute performance per watt, reducing the carbon footprint, and requiring less hardware as services scale. In the past 24 months we performed a technology refresh, software optimization to our infrastructure and data centers that resulted in a 25 percent improvement in energy efficiency.
3p: How will eBay benefit from this facility’s advanced green design? How will the design help the company meet its environmental — and broader business — goals?
MR: The benefits are extensive, both in terms of ROI to the business and in terms of the long term environmental effects. Across the board, creating efficiencies in the way we manage our data comes with cost savings — and obvious environmental savings. It’s allowing us to accelerate our technology refresh program and reduce our power consumption overall. We are taking an infrastructure that consumes roughly 10 mW of power and migrating that to our Utah facility, where it will take only 7.4 mW to run. In other words we are taking the same compute power, and running it with less energy.
This helps us meet not only what we call our “operational efficiency” goals, which contribute directly to the cost of running our business, but also our environmental goals. Earlier this year, eBay committed to an overall carbon reduction goal of 15 percent by 2012 — our overall data center migration strategy, with the opening of our Utah facility in 2010 as a core component of that — will be key to helping us achieve this goal.