This article is old, Feb 28, 2008, but when the article was written eBay was 1/3 the way through their 3 year project, and the architect Paul Strong shares his ideas and approach.
The company's a third of the way through a major three-year grid computing initiative, hard at work developing software and employing technologies that can describe the relationships between and among hardware and software in its data centers with the eventual goal of making eBay easier to manage, quicker to upgrade, and scalable beyond imagination.
The specifics that let me know Paul was on the right path are here.
For the time being, new semantic and modeling technologies help eBay (NSDQ: EBAY) describe its systems, understand how they relate to one another, and even discover systems it didn't previously know were there. For example, eBay is beginning to use the Resource Description Framework and the Web Ontology Language, two Semantic Web technologies, to "store and query relationships" between and among the software and hardware in its networks.
EBay also is working with others to create standard ways to describe how software and devices in a network relate to one another, known as modeling. It monitors many of the emerging modeling standards groups, but the company chairs the Open Grid Forum's Reference Model working group, because, according to Strong, the OGF is "the only place specifically focused on large distributed systems." Strong also acts as chair of the OGF itself.
The OGF's Reference Model group's focus is to develop a common modeling language to unify other standards like the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF). "No one tool can manage the modern data center, so interoperability is absolutely critical," Strong said. The work eBay has done with the OGF has informed its own ontology, which could provide a starting point for implementing future technologies that take advantage of these emerging standards to simplify distributed management.