The transactions may be virtual, but the energy costs are real

For eBay users, the buying and selling of a product is a completely virtual process; on the other end of that transaction however, is a data center that is racking up the energy bills every time you click. In 2011, eBay had an average of 300 million items up for sale and presently supports 100 million active users, processing $2000 in transactions every second – that’s a lot of clicks, and a lot of energy.

While eBay has always been on the lookout for more energy-efficient ways to “green” things up, this time, the company may have developed what is being called by some the most efficient data center in the world; check it out.

Nelson aims to lessen energy-use and increase transactions

Nestled in Phoenix, Arizona, where the sun shines bright, Project Mercury was eBay’s answer to a call for increased efficiency and a greater concern for the environmental impacts of their business. According to ZDNet, Dean Nelson, leader of the project, made it his goal to use the smallest number of watts possible while running the highest number of transactions. Here’s a video describing Nelson’s ambitious vision; take a look!

The process behind Project Mercury

According to eBay, data centres make up over 50% of the company’s global power usage. So, in an effort to get that number down, and balance online activity with energy-efficiency, the team created Project Mercury.

The first step in the process was to move away from leased facilities into eBay owned centers where they could, according to the website, “control technology rhythms”. Now, in Phoenix, Arizona, where it’s hotter than hot, a minimum of 76% of power is used for computers to do their work, and it’s not unheard of for numbers to run as high as 95%. This makes Project Mercury one of the most efficient data centres in the world.

Along their journey to success, eBay was supported heavily by The Green Grid, an organization for advancing resource efficiency in data centres and business computing ecosystems. In order for the rest of the industry to benefit from eBay’s success, The Green Grid released a case study, outlining eBay’s process and findings, the highlights of which include: free year-round cooling for computing equipment; equipment purchases based on lowest total lifetime energy consumption with eBay-type work load; an innovative “rack and roll” process that cuts the amount of time needed for servers to come online from months to minutes; modular design that anticipates and enables future growth; and the alignment of facilities and IT that has cut capital and operating costs by 50%.

Questions or comments about eBay? Leave them below!

 image credit: pbo31