Stability, Agility, Scalability, and Cost: The eBay Example

Posted in: Technical Track

Anyone interested in the architecture of highly scalable and stable infrastructure will enjoy this Presentation by Randy Shoup and Dan Pritchett of Ebay on how they, in their words, “strike a balance between site stability, feature velocity, performance, and cost.”

Key takeaways: 300 new features per quarter, 26 billion sql executions per day, 99.94% available in real life.

Nice work, guys.

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About the Author

As Pythian’s Chief Executive Officer, Paul leads this center of excellence for expert, outsourced technical services for companies whose systems are directly tied to revenue growth and business success. His passion and foresight for using data and technology to drive business success has helped Pythian become a high-growth global company with over 400 employees and offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. Paul, who started his career as a data scientist, founded Pythian when he was 25 years old. In addition to driving the business, Paul is a vocal proponent of diversity in the workplace, human rights, and economic empowerment. He supports his commitment through Pythian’s hiring and retention practices, his role as board member for the Basic Income Canada Network, and as a supporter of women in technology.

5 Comments. Leave new

Nice work, eh?

“No business logic in database”

“Move CPU-intensive work to applications”
” – Referential integrity”
” – Joins”
” – Sorting”

“Auto-commit for vast majority of DB writes”

I wonder what TK would have to say about this…


Hi Szilard,

Yeah, I noticed that. Speaking as a purist myself, do you think this was doable at all without those compromises?

My personal database scalability experience tops out at 20 million users and under 100,000 online simultaneously. I can tell you without hesitating that even to do that required some serious out-of-the-box thinking and more than a few compromises that would have had Ted Codd spinning in his grave and Ray Boyce spitting in my eye. (Can anyone confirm Boyce is still with us?)



Many high end systems would move a lot of traditional database activities to application tier simply because it’s much easier to scale there as opposed to database tier. Other consideration could be licensing costs – especially if it’s Oracle database.

Speaking about Tom Kyte – he often says “If it’s printed, doesn’t mean it’s true”.
In this case it’s applicable to both – his approaches and referenced white paper.


What a beast of a system…. imagine what it’ll be like in 5 – 10 years time.

They’ve applied the ‘Divide and Conquer’ technique to good affect. And it’s pretty clear from reading this that it’s not some thing that could’ve been resolved with RAC either. The model employed by these guys contradicts the “shared everything” architecture model which is the basis for RAC, and it’s working!


It turns out Johannes Ernst attended the actual presentation and made some very interesting observations and notes about the system and the way that it works.


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