eBay Pursues Modular Data Centers

The site in Phoenix where eBay is commencing construction on an 8,000 square foot data center. The company is seeking design submissions for a rooftop container installation.

eBay plans to use data center containers at a new facility, and has issued a public request for proposals through the Data Center Pulse industry group. The winning design will be used in an 8,000 square foot data center that eBay is building in Phoenix, which will be able to accommodate up to 12 server-filled containers on its roof. The two-story building will also include raised-floor space on its first floor.  

eBay joins a growing number of companies using containers as the basis for a modular data center design. Google and Microsoft have both built container-based facilities, while i/o Data Centers just announced plans to install 200 modules in its Phoenix data center.

eBay is also building in Phoenix, where it already operates a major data center, and is seeking a design that will provide the highest possible density in a facility with 4 megawatts of power capacity. 

eBay’s plan was outlined by Dean Nelson, eBay’s Senior Director of Global Data Center Strategy, who is also a co-founder of Data Center Pulse. Eight companies have already been selected to compete for the job, all of which have industry experience including previous container-based projects. Nelson said at least 22 other submissions hjave met the criteria to be considered for the project. The RFP process closes on August 20.

“We knew this was going to be a challenging RFP because of the design requirements to accommodate current, emerging and future technologies in a highly flexible manner,” Nelson says. “In the past, specific vendors were selected to participate in Ebay RFPs. We believed that this approach could limit innovation.  It also excluded the companies that we are not aware of.”

The eBay project calls for a combination of approaches to cooling and reliability, using both air cooling and liquid cooling in different parts of the facility. Nelson said one goal of the design is to have containers that can use fresh air cooling (free cooling) year-round, despite the temperatures in Phoenix. For more details, see Nelson’s blog post and the RFP overview. Here’s a video in which Nelson outlines the project and discusses eBay’s design goals and process:

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. Philip Cohen

    Hello, has someone just woken up to the fact that eBay's data center is broken. Gee, it's only taken four months. What will these headless turkeys discover next? That the eBay whale is high and dry on the beach somewhare, has died, and is starting to stink ... In the meantime, for anyone seriously interested in the utter incompetence and deviousness of eBay’s executive management generally, and in particular eBay’s deliberate and demonstrable criminal facilitation of the rampant shill bidding fraud being perpetrated on unsuspecting buyers, by a great many unscrupulous professional sellers via nominal-start auctions, an introduction thereto (along with some PayPal horror stories thrown in for good measure) can be found at http://forums.auctionbytes.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=23013

  2. Hello everybody! We turn to all of you because since we asked Mr. Lewis, Director Mission Critical Engineering eBay, Inc. for an explanation of the situation that we are into , we still have no answer from him and probably we will never receive such. We think, that a respected company like Ebay, that has asked all the world for help in finding the best solutions for its business problems, should be the last to treat the people that are trying to help in such an insulting manner. And here are the facts: ------------------------------ START QUOTE ----------------------------- On 22.8.2010 г. 20:31, Lewis, Mike wrote: Thank you very much for your interest. Unfortunately, Vendor responses to this RFP were due Friday August 20. We would be happy to consider your company for future submissions. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Mike Lewis Director Mission Critical Engineering eBay, Inc. -----Original Message----- From: admin@datacenterpulse.org [mailto:admin@datacenterpulse.org] Sent: Thursday, August 19, 2010 1:54 PM To: modular@datacenterpulse.org Subject: Form submission from: eBay Phoenix RFP Application Submitted on 08/19/2010 - 13:53 Submitted by anonymous user: [] Submitted values are:........ ------------------------------ END QUOTE ------------------------------ As you all can see we submitted our proposal on Thursday August 19,2010 at exactly 13:53 h. There is a copy of the submission and the answer to it by Mr. Lewis sent to modular@datacenterpulce.org too. The answer unambiguously states, that we have missed the deadline. Well, we do have a questions that we just can't find reasonable answer by ourselves. And as we did not get an answer until now from the person we should get it from, we ask you all people. 1. Can someone explain how can we be late, if we applied a day before the final strike of the clock? 2. What are the reasons, backing such, without any doubt, insulting answer, to our application submission, from Mr. Mike Lewis, who is the responsible person for the project from Ebay's side? 3. Has this person even looked at our proposal and ideas? We think not! He even did not look at the date, which is the first line of the application, so what's left for the rest? 4. What could be the possible reasons for ignoring any, even a single one, of the received solutions and ideas (of course, not only from us), for problems that appears to be of such importance for the company he works for, with such disregard ? Well, it might happen that they might not suit Ebay's needs, that there are better solutions. Of course it might turn out like this. And this is normal. You know what is not normal? Mr. Lewis' attitude! We think this is enough that we said for know. We are looking forward to hear your opinions and eventually an adequate response from the persons in charge and we thank you in advance for your time spent over the topic. But me and my colleagues still wonder: How a company by the rank of Ebay can afford to rely on such people to take care of its problems? We all know that sooner or later, such behavior by the employees, no matter of their position, can lead only to one result. And it's not a good one at all. Neither for the company, nor for the rest of the people involved with it somehow. And we do not wish this to anyone. Please accept my true regards to all of you, Stefan Petrounov, CEO, Modulardatacenter.net Info Data Center Ltd, Bulgaria P.S. We kindly asked Mr. Dean Nelson for an explanation. Guess what. We still did not receive one!