Web 2.0: How High-Volume eBay Manages Its Storage

The ultrapopular auction/sales Web site continues its exponential growth and finds itself adding 10 terabytes of new storage every week. That's a lot of data.

eBay, like Xerox and Google, is fast becoming its own generic verb for what it does ("Oh, just eBay it"). And when a company itself becomes the name for what it does, then a certain level of success has been reached.

Make that a very high level of success. Among Web 2.0 companies, San Jose, Calif.-based eBay is up there with Google, Amazon, Yahoo, eHarmony, Digg.com, and social networking sites MySpace.com and FaceBook.com as far as traffic, popularity and profitability are concerned.

Some of the facts and figures -- according to eBay itself -- about the worlds largest auction business and most popular commercial Web site are downright staggering:

  • The site averages more than 1 billion page views per day.
  • Users trade about $1,700 worth of goods on the site every second.
  • 26 billion SQL queries per day.
  • A vehicle sells every minute.
  • A motor part or accessory sells every second.
  • Diamond jewelry sells every 2 minutes.
  • The site currently posts about 600 million listings per quarter and about 204 million registered users.

This one, in particular, is striking: 1.3 million people make all or part of their living selling on eBay.

To put this into a little perspective, FDRs two largest New Deal jobs programs, the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Civil Works Administration, employed a total of 6.5 million workers in the 1930s.

eBay is handling all those transactions, Web site page views and money changing hands on a near-no-latency, 24/7, international basis. The sites availability has been charted at 99.94 percent per day (a hiccup of about 50 seconds per day). When it was charted in June 1999, the site was latent an average of 43 minutes per day.

How eBay got to this level of technical efficiency and success is a long story. What we can do is offer an overview about how the company approaches its storage strategy—something that the company hasnt talked about with the media before.

Not many Web-based businesses have run into the kind of traffic and server-availability issues that eBay has experienced.

"Our growth has just been exponential for 11 years," eBay Research Labs Distinguished Engineer Paul Strong told eWEEK. "And since our job is to provide available, efficient, low-latency, 24/7 performance, we know we have a difficult job to do every day to keep the site running as perfectly as we need it to run."

Next Page: 2 petabytes daily.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he has...