RealTime IT News

eBay Recovers From Outage

Internet auction giant eBay said it has restored service after a sequence of events starting with a hardware failure that took the site off-line for almost 11 hours yesterday.

The company said that the failure, which lasted until 10 p.m. PST, "was the result of a series of failures that affected both our primary and back-up systems. This was compounded by a decision to delay the replacement of certain hardware components in an effort to avoid disrupting service during the busy holiday season."

eBay said the site outage was not expected to have any material financial impact. In fact, Goldman, Sachs analysts said that they "believe the revenue impact is less than $500,000 in credits to sellers."

GS said it continues to advise clients to add to market positions in the low $30 range. eBay stock actually went up yesterday as the overall market rocketed higher, closing at $39.35, up more than $9. It was down almost $3 at mid-morning today.

The site has had several failures over the past few years, including some caused by denial of service spam attacks. eBay experienced one of its largest outages on June 10, 1999, which lasted over 22 hours and resulted in the company paying users approximately $3.9 million in credited fees, according to Goldman Sachs.

eBay also issued a formal apology, saying: "We apologize to our community for this lengthy interruption of service." eBay said it would extend all listings by 24 hours and credit related fees.

The outage was due to a series of unrelated issues that began with a hardware failure on eBay's back-up system. As the company restarted the back-up system, another problem developed in the storage system shared by the primary and back-up systems, effectively bringing down the site.

A third system was then brought up, and it functioned effectively for about 40 minutes before a database problem caused this system to also become unavailable, the company said.

Interestingly, eBay had this to say in a statement on the system failure: "While we have known for a while that a potential problem existed in our shared disk hardware, we chose to delay the recommended upgrade because we had developed a series of work-arounds that had previously proven effective."

The company said it will upgrade hardware elements in the next few weeks, which will require scheduled downtime of approximately six hours. "In addition, we have already embarked on a longer-term program to distribute the database to many separate servers that will isolate any failure to a limited part of the site," the company said.