Monday 18 July 2011

Mission critical at eBay!

Infrastructure investment to avoid $2,000 per second impact for downtime

When one of the largest companies in the e-commerce industry, looks to increase the stability of its data center, a critical component to its business strategy, a central “must-have” is continuous power. To that end, eBay chose a mission critical system that includes Quad PAC Redundancy Control Systems from GE Intelligent Platforms.

eBay reports that its transactions total approximately $60 billion per year in goods, which translates to almost $2,000 per second.

The company started a strategic infrastructure project called Topaz in 2010 that would increase the stability of eBay’s data centers as well as enable further growth. Topaz, located near Salt Lake City, Utah, was the first data center that the company built from scratch and was also the beginning of a project to reduce eBay’s use of co-located data centers and simultaneously reduce company-owned facilities. In addition, management was interested in an eBay-only facility that would maximize efficiencies by tailoring capacity and availability to needs specific to its core business.

“Our data centers make up more than 50% of our global power usage,”
said Dean Nelson, eBay Senior Director of Global Foundational Services. “I pay that power bill, so economic and ecological efficiency was a must.”

eBay worked with RTKL, a global design firm that provides services to deliver a comprehensive and customized design of mission critical projects. The Topaz facility was a “green field” development focused on the design principles of reliability, maintainability, sustainability and efficiency. As a result of the design and construction efforts and the subsequent power usage savings, the Topaz facility achieved a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold rating in 2010.

In order to provide the high availability (Tier IV design) that eBay wanted, and minimize the requirements of redundant switchgear and generator plant, a ring bus with six breaker transfer switchgear was specified at Topaz. The Tier IV design not only required that distribution equipment be fault tolerant, but the controls need to be as well. Generator control switchgear from Russelectric was commissioned. The Russelectric team pre-tested, qualified and implemented the GE Quad PAC redundant control system on the project.

The Quad PAC solution features “Smart Redundancy,” an algorithm that continually calculates the relative system availability in real time and delivers predictive analysis on key process input variables. A quad redundancy control system has a Master Controller and three synchronized backup controllers. It leverages Ethernet-based I/O devices that can seamlessly arbitrate its control from one of the four controllers in the system. If the Master Controller, or any of the system components fail, the system identifies the best backup controller to take over and provides the system with the most capability to withstand the next sequence of multiple or cascaded system failures.

“Within the physical infrastructure, our backups need to have backup,” said eBay’s Nelson. “We have to be prepared for multiple failures at any different point. This system offers three complete levels of backup which provides us with the near-zero downtime we need for our mission critical data centers.”

The Quad PAC controlled switchgear was designed with a voting scheme where triple inputs are sent to the PLC system. The best of the three dictates the state of the device. This helps reduce wiring issues, loose connections over time and the impact of human error which accounts for approximately 60% of all failures in a data center.

“The Quad PAC is a great solution for data centers, hospitals and other facilities where critical processes are automated,”
said Bernie Anger, Vice President of GE Intelligent Platforms Control & Communications Systems. “It uses a unique and revolutionary ‘predictive intelligence’ that provides security and peace of mind for organizations that just can’t afford to go down.”

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