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Boeing, eBay Data Centers Look More Like Cloud

eBay and Boeing, two major builders of new enterprise data centers, explain what they looked for in new architecture at the InformationWeek 100 event.
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Boeing and eBay managers explained greater resilience and agility were the key goals behind their data center modernization efforts, during the InformationWeek 100 Conference in Las Vegas Monday.

For Mike Stothers, Boeing's director of core Infrastructure engineering, the acquisition of data centers that marched in lockstep with its acquisition of companies was the bugaboo of Boeing IT. In 1994, it acquired Rockwell International; in 1997, McDonnell Douglas; and in 2000, Hughes Space and Communications. Each brought with it an assortment of data centers.

When Boeing sought to consolidate data centers five years ago, it chose to build one in the Southwest, then another a year ago in the Pacific Northwest. It will soon start building its third data center on the East Coast, achieving a geographical spread that it considers wise for overall corporate systems survivability. Each is heavily virtualized, and, "we get data replication and disaster recovery" capability through the data center dispersion, Stothers said.

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To Sri Shivananda, vice president of global platform and infrastructure at eBay, the modern data center is also about installing uniform standard sets of servers, something he now achieves by implementing 2,000 at a time in a single shipping-container package. "Automate everything you can," he advises. Software can run your data center, "not a large human workforce."

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At eBay, that means a development team can self-provision with servers "in 45 seconds." That doesn't mean the cluster has been tested, for the team's purposes. "I'm not sure I want the testing to be completed in 45 seconds," he quipped. But a cluster is up and running and available.

Both agreed that modern enterprise infrastructure is more cloud-like and more fully operated by software than data centers of just a few years ago. Also, modernizing infrastructure doesn't automatically equate to achieving DevOps, but it does result in "much greater visibility into the infrastructure" and gives operations staff a way to monitor many applications with one monitoring system.

Interop Las Vegas, taking place April 27-May 1 at Mandalay Bay Resort, is the leading independent technology conference and expo series dedicated to providing technology professionals the unbiased information they need to thrive as new technologies transform the enterprise. IT Pros come to Interop to see the future of technology, the outlook for IT, and the possibilities of what it means to be in IT.