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Announcing eBay Inc.'s Renewable Energy RFQ

Back in March, I wrote about the 2012 Data Center Top 10, the current pulse of what is hot, interesting, challenging or emerging from the DCP community. “Renewable Power Options” came in at Number Five but for eBay, it’s near the top of the list.

We fundamentally believe that the future of commerce can be better than it is today; not only more convenient and accessible to consumers, but greener, cleaner and more efficient. The technology infrastructure and energy behind eBay’s commerce platforms are core to this vision. I’ve written here many times about the radical efficiency measures and innovative design approaches that my team, in tandem with our industry partners, has integrated into our data center portfolio. But as remarkable as those accomplishments have been, we are still using more carbon-intensive electricity than we would like. For the last three years, we’ve traversed the complicated regulatory environment and ever-expanding technology arena to source clean energy where we operate. Today, I’m excited to announce our next step in that journey.

DCP 2012 Top 10

Have you ever wondered what is on the mind of Data Center End Users? Why they make the decisions they make? What problems they are trying to solve?  What keeps them up at night? Back in 2009, Data Center Pulse took a shot at capturing those thoughts through the 2009 Top 10. Over the last three years, this list has morphed as the interests, challenges and solutions emerged.

Today we are pleased to release the 2012 Top 10 that I was able to present at the Green Grid Technical Forum on March 7, 2012 in San Jose, CA. The 2012 Top 10 was vetted with the attendees of the DCP Summit held in conjunction with the Green Grid. DCP members discussed and debated the Top 10 along with the primary topics selected by attendees - The Green Grid Case Study on Project Mercury (video) and the Service Efficiency Metric Proposal. You can see the results from the Summit on my latest blog entry, DCP 2012 Summit Results.


2012 Top 10

  1. Facilities & IT Alignment
  2. Top Level Efficiency Metric
  3. Standardized Stack Framework
  4. Move from Availability to Resiliency
  5. Renewable Power Options
  6. "Containers" vs Brick & Mortar
  7. Hybrid Data Center Designs
  8. Liquid Cooled IT Equipment Options
  9. Free Cooling "Everywhere"
  10. Converged Infrastructure Intelligence.

The Top 10 is the current pulse of what is hot, interesting, challenging or emerging from the DCP community. We were able to record the Top 10 presentation I gave at the Green Grid Technical Forum closing session. The presentation showed how the Top 10 list has morphed over time as End User interests and challenges have changed, as well as provide context on each of the entries.

The DCP charter is to influence the industry through end users. We hope this latest Top 10 will give you insight into what is important right now - i.e. The Pulse.


DCP 2012 Summit Results

On March 5, 2012 DCP members from as far away as Japan and Taiwan converged on the Doubletree hotel in San Jose, CA for an all day collaboration session with end user peers - The DCP 2012 Summit was held in conjunction with the Green Grid Technical Forum. Almost 50 of my industry peers from companies like Yahoo!, Microsoft, LBNL, Stanford University, Salesforce, @ Tokyo, Delta, Equinix and others, focused on discussing what's hot - i.e. the current "pulse" in DCP. With over 2200 members in 66 countries, there is definitely a lively "pulse".

The summit registration process yielded three priority topics

  1. The Green Grid Case Study on eBay's Project Mercury
  2. The new Service Efficiency Metric proposal.
  3. The DCP Top 10 for 2012.

This year we changed the format. Instead of choosing 6 or 7 topics and breaking out into parallel groups, we selected a smaller number and held them in series so all members could be involved in the rich discussion and debate. The format worked out well. We had over 3 hours of discussion on Project Mercury, 2 1/2 hours on the Service Efficiency Metric and a wrap up hour on the Top 10 which I presented on behalf of DCP at the Green Grid Technical Forum closing session on Wednesday, March 7, 2012 (Watch for an upcoming blog and video on that next week). Below are three videos summarizing the event and the two primary topics.

As Mark and I discussed last January in Episode 33: Three Years Later, we are getting back to basics. These collaboration sessions are one of the key reasons that end users participate in Data Center Pulse. The networking, discussion, debate and innovation that comes from them is aligned with the Data Center Pulse charter to influence the Data Center industry through end users.


DCP 2012 Summit Summary

It's Time to Collaborate

In December of 2011 we hosted an exclusive Data Center Pulse collaboration session one day before we held the opening of the eBay Data Center, Project Mercury. The goal of this collaboration session was to bring 50 of our Data Center peers together to deep dive into the project, the lessons learned and discuss/debate the relevance of these concepts being applied to their data centers. We also did something new in this session - we allowed 5 vendors to participate. Wait, before you cry foul and question why we would go against our charter, I need to lay out some context. We invited the design and construction teams (EDI Ltd, AHA Consulting Engineers, Winterstreet Architects & DPR) to participate in the closed door session with members. These were the engineers that did the actual work, not sales, marketing, etc. They had very relevant insight and learnings into the challenges and lesson learned. That session went very well with lots of people discussing and debating the implementation and practicality to application in their environment. Once we finished that session, we had parallel deep dives with the Dell and HP technologists who were directly responsible for the Container, Server and Storage designs and implementations in Project Mercury. It was engineers talking to engineers.

This collaboration session turned out be one of the most productive we've had to date. Below is a video with footage from the event, a quick tour of the Project Mercury Data Center and Interviews with some of the attendees.


We are hosting our next DCP Summit on Monday, March 5, 2012 in San Jose. You can email to receive the password to register. View the summit details here. One of the topics at the summit will be the Project Mercury Case Study published by the Green Grid on February 27, 2012.



Three Years Later

DCP was formed on September 8, 2009. It seems like only yesterday when we started this! Quite a bit has happened since that date. We have over 2200 core members in 66 countries representing over 1000 companies in almost every industry. Our original charter has remained the same; Influence the industry through the insight of the consumer - the data center owner/operator. Join Mark Thiele and I as we reflect back on the three years and address how we plan to get back to basics with DCP in 2012.


A Bus To The Future


I'll get straight to the point. I have a simple request directed to the personal and professional contacts I have established over the last 23 years. I need your help to raise $25,000 to buy a school bus for Dalit children in Patna, India. You can make your tax deductible donation through this PayPal Link:


Huh? Why do you need to buy a school bus for an area literally on the other side of the planet? Don't you just build and operate data centers for eBay? Yes, my day job is to build and operate the foundation that enables 100 million people to buy and sell products all over the planet...but there is something else that is equally as important. Just like Data Centers are the foundation that allow on-line businesses like eBay to grow, compete, and thrive - Education is the foundation that allows CHILDREN to grow, compete, and thrive. If children do not have access to education, then they are always at a disadvantage.

Let me explain my connection here. Earlier this year, thieves in Northern India stole a bus from the Emmanuel School in Patna. I'm sure the first question coming to your mind is why couldn't they just use their insurance to get it replaced? Sure, that sounds logical, but that's not how it works in poverty stricken areas like Patna. It can take more than nine months to get a claim paid. The payment would also not pay for a new bus. The reason this theft is personal to me is that three years ago a group of my family, friends and business contacts bought the school bus that was stolen. That simple gift enabled hundreds of extremely poor kids from remote villages to go to school. My wonderfully giving group of friends helped those kids have a shot at the future. Hundreds of Dalit children used that bus to get to the only school that would take them. Sounds like an exaggerated story, but it is not. I met many of these kids personally when I visited Patna with my mom. I know it has made a big difference in their lives. You can see the original website we published here. (please do not use the links there to donate, just use PayPal button above)

Normally, I keep my personal and professional lives separate, but I believe this is story will resonate with many in my network. We're not just going to replace the stolen bus, we're going to buy a larger one to get even more kids to school!  If you want to be a part of this, just click the PayPal donate button and give what ever you can. You can also keep up to date on the progress through our new website, Just Let Me Learn.


It is tax deductible and I will be including your name (and your company if applicable) in the new plaque we will give to the school leaders when we purchase the bus (you can also opt out of the plaque if you wish). Remember, that most companies match charitable donations by employees, so keep that in mind if you are donating personally. For corporations, please contact me directly ( if you need a differnet payment method to donate. My sincerest thanks in advance!

Quicksilver Winner Announced

Today I am pleased to announced that the team of AHA Consulting Engineers & Winterstreet Architects have been selected to design Phase II of the eBay Data Center in Utah - Project Quicksilver.

Quicksilver Finalists Selected

In technology, competition truly is the mother of innovation.

The first round of the Project Quicksilver competition is complete! Through the months of August and September we received 68 requests to participate in eBay's second public Data Center RFP codenamed Project Quicksilver. 61 companies qualified, and 20 submitted design proposals by the October 7th deadline. Today we have selected the 5 finalists based on a comprehensive and balanced scoring system that rated each companies submission based on the design concept, team capabilities, overall operational efficiency, sustainability and cost.



Project Quicksilver


Earlier this week we pre-announced that Ebay will be launching another public Modular Data Center RFP through Data Center Pulse. This is the second round of the public RFP process. Project Mercury, which was the result of the first public RFP, will finish commissioning by the end of this month and will be fully operational by October. Today we formally announce project Quicksilver. Quicksilver is Liquid Metal Mercury that moves and changes very quickly. Besides the obvious play on the Mercury name, we picked this name because it represents the capability we are looking for in data center portfolio. How can we create a generic, flexible data center infrastructure that can move and change with our business needs?

As you will see, we are taking the public RFP to the next level. The video below gives more insight into the project by describing the Scope, Requirements, Process and Schedule. 


You can watch the project page for all of the updates as we go through this journey. My team, partners and suppliers have done incredible things in Project Mercury. I look forward to the next phase in our evolution as we execute Project Quicksilver. 

Interested parties, should email for more information.

Let the new battle begin!


Death To The Datacenter!

Last month, we killed our first eBay data center. Don’t worry, it had it coming...


I arrived early at the eBay San Jose campus as the rain continued to drench northern California. I joined a group of lively eBay employees from technology operations, product development and IT on a bus headed to Sacramento. We were on a journey to put our oldest data center to rest. This journey had started over a year and a half earlier, long before I had joined eBay. At that time, an aggressive plan was put into motion. The goal was to consolidate the data center portfolio to decrease costs, increase our availability and take eBay to the next level of Operational agility. It was a lofty goal.

eBay, like many of the rising star Silicon Valley companies, had been in constant react mode to keep up with demand. They had amassed a data center portfolio that spanned three states and in twelve different data center sites. Eight years earlier, the Sacramento data center (SMF) was the first to be brought online as a disaster recovery location and it was supposed to be temporary. It quickly expanded to become much more than that. When the idea of shutting it down was raised, the feeling was it was too big a task, too complex and too costly to execute. It would be like rebuilding the engine of a jumbo jet while you were in flight.

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