With 5 petabytes of user data on Teradata equipment, eBay is one of the hardest-core analytic technology users around. Naturally, eBay thinks it gains much competitive advantage from this, and doesn’t want to share many details. But one tidbit eBay has let slip is that in less than a year, eBay exploited analytics to increase server utilization by more than 1.6X.
What I mean is this: There’s a simple metric called Parallel Efficiency (PE) = (total average server utilization)/(total maximum server utilization). To the extent your parallel efficiency on a parallel cluster is under 100%, you’re essentially wasting server purchase cost, server room floor space, and some amount of power. eBay measured the parallel efficiency of its 10,000+ servers – probably a lot more than 10,000 – and found a figure well under 50%. “Six months” or so later – I’m saying “less than a year” because such timelines are hard to measure precisely – parallel efficiency was up to over 80%. The resulting cost savings are obviously enormous.
eBay did this in the usual way, identifying and eliminating bottlenecks. The interesting part is how they found the bottlenecks. Just as they would with any other kind of data, they banged network event data into a data warehouse, then used standard analytic tools to extract results.
As I wrote recently,
Where there’s clickstream data, there’s usually also network event data – and the latter is in even higher volumes.
Now we know what the payoff from collecting all that data can be.
Curt Monash is a leading analyst of and strategic advisor to the software industry. Praised by Lawrence J. Ellison for his "unmatched insight into technology and marketplace trends," Curt was the software/services industry's #1 ranked stock analyst while at PaineWebber, Inc., where he served as a First Vice President until 1987. He subsequently co-founded Evernet, Inc., a $40 million networking systems integrator. Since 1990, he has owned and operated Monash Research, an analysis and advisory firm covering software-intensive sectors of the technology industry. In that period he also has been co-founder, president, or chairman of several other technology startups.
Curt has served as a strategic advisor to many well-known firms, including Oracle, Microsoft, SAP, AOL, CA, and Netezza. Curt earned a Ph.D. in mathematics (Game Theory) from Harvard University. He has held faculty positions in mathematics, economics and public policy at Harvard, Yale, and Suffolk universities.