The value of goods sold on eBay in 2009 was nearly $60 billion, which translates into approximately $2,000 in sales every second.
Maintaining the massive technical infrastructure that enables this level of sales means that eBay is always looking for ways to drive IT efficiencies and service improvements.
In 2010, eBay and Microsoft entered discussions about how Microsoft’s cloud-based Windows Azure Platform might offer an alternative approach for eBay to deploy and scale applications more quickly and cost effectively.
eBay enlisted Accenture and Avanade—an Accenture majority-owned company dedicated to providing solutions using Microsoft technologies—to demonstrate how Windows Azure might work in eBay’s highly customized, Java-based environment.
Several factors influenced the decision to select Accenture and Avanade for this work. Accenture had a long-standing and successful record of helping eBay introduce new products and services. In addition, Accenture and Avanade were Microsoft’s global systems integrators of choice for the Windows Azure platform. Together, they had established a Windows Azure Factory (co-located in Pune, India, and Manila, the Philippines) dedicated to developing cloud-enabled client solutions.
The project focused on migrating eBay’s Apple iPad marketplace site to the Windows Azure platform. The iPad site was important because it allowed eBay to experiment with sizeable demand and highly customized pages quickly without investing in additional infrastructure costs.
As the primary systems integrator, Accenture and Avanade’s Windows Azure Factory worked with Microsoft technical experts and a small team of eBay infrastructure personnel to deliver the program in three phases:
In phase two the team focused on developing the “hooks” that would enable eBay to deploy, provision and code specific application packages to Azure.
In phase one the team demonstrated that eBay applications could run in the cloud by manually porting a specific class of marketplace applications to the Windows Azure platform.
In phase three the team developed the monitoring tools that would allow eBay to assess the performance of the application on a continual basis. At the same time, the team launched the iPad landing page to the Windows Azure Platform to demonstrate how the platform—as well as the automated functionality and monitoring tools—would operate in a live production environment.
The Windows Azure project confirmed that eBay could provision application development services and host marketplace applications on the public cloud.
With the ipad.ebay.com work, eBay experienced first-hand the platform’s flexibility, scalability, cost advantages and speed to market.
The Accenture and Avanade project provided valuable insights into how eBay could incorporate cloud computing into its long-term infrastructure vision.
That vision, enabled by Azure’s powerful capabilities, sets the stage for significant cost savings and will let eBay launch new types of landing pages and customer experiences more quickly and efficiently.