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How IBM (and Open Source) Won eBay 334

DemonBrew wrote to us with a new article in Business2 how IBM beat MSFT, Sun, BEA Systems to win the contract for the new eBay. Cool part is that it's based on Websphere, which has major open source components.
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How IBM (and Open Source) Won eBay

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  • by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @05:24PM (#3487054) Journal
    They waited until the very last second and then squeezed their bid in.

  • by Marx_Mrvelous ( 532372 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @05:25PM (#3487064) Homepage
    It did seem very interesting. The article mentions that IBM is still loking for something to "light the fire" and produce large amounts of revenue... maybe hey don't need an internal change, but an external one; businesses realizeing the power and cost savings of open-source software and switching back to big blue.
    • maybe [t]hey don't need an internal change, but an external one;

      But really they've already made an internal change. By embracing Linux and opensource. 2-3 years ago I had heard rumors of IBM revamping AIX to be more like Linux. Whether that's actually happened I don't know, but I see plenty of evidence which says they've certainly embraced Linux itself, as well as opensource. They've pushed the 'stick all your linux on our mainframe' for a while. I can only imagine the internal changes that took place to go from closed and proprietary to open. You won't see MS doing that any time soon.
    • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @08:23PM (#3487872)
      to have read the article before posting, and naive enough to admit it.

      You'll learn.
  • by outofthezone ( 576651 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @05:25PM (#3487065)
    What the hell are you talking about? Major open-source components? Which? Last I checked, (I have the Websphere Studio download sitting here, right from IBM's partner site - and I see nothing about open source anything. Is java open source? Or XML?

    Open Standards and open-source are 2 different things, and hell - Java isn't an open standard, nor is it open source in the truest sense. What a bunch of bullshit propaganda. Go Microsoft.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      What webserver does WebSphere use?

    • umm Websphere is based on Apache Webserver... which last time I checked was one of the largest opensource projects EVER
      • by rmjiv ( 462990 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @07:12PM (#3487572) Homepage
        umm Websphere is based on Apache Webserver

        umm, -5(Wrong)

        IBM does have a product called IBM HTTP Server, which is a rebrand of Apache Webserver with some configuration tools and (iirc) a different SSL engine. However, WebSphere is a totally different product with different functionality (application server vs. web-server). They are bundled together, but are different.

        WebSphere does use Xerces and Xalan which are Apache projects for XML processing. So do most of the Java application servers, though.

        FYI, IBM is a major supporter of the Xerces and Xalan sub-projects, and is a major supporter of the Jakarta Apache project, providing developers and code. So maybe they have a better claim on being "more" open source than other Java Application servers. This I leave up to others to decide.

    • At least it can be argued that IBM is a proponent and supporter of Open Source:

      JFS [ibm.com] - a filesystem is a pretty major component of a server, don't you think?.

      developerWorks: Open Source Projects [ibm.com] - many more toys for development

      Meanwhile, other major vendors jump on the bandwagon with comparitively little (Sun, SGI's XFS which is not open but at least the distribute Linux clue, and HP are on the Linux bandwagon) to none (Microsoft). BEA is one of Sun's happy little Sun ONE minions. Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to be a joke for large projects. Go Microsoft indeed.

    • What the hell are you talking about? Major open-source components? Which? Last I checked, (I have the Websphere Studio download sitting here, right from IBM's partner site - and I see nothing about open source anything. Is java open source? Or XML?
      Sadly, they are true, have a look at what is included with WebSphere:
      • Apache
      • XAlan
      • Xerces
      Having said this, I agree that the opensource bit is a little overstated, since the major part of WebSphere is not opensource at all, but how would it get onto /. if they didn't mention opensource! :-)
    • Is java open source?

      yes [sun.com].

      Java isn't an open standard, nor is it open source in the truest sense.

      How many senses of the words "open-source" are there? Either the code is available to the public, or it isn't? Remember, Open-Source != Free [gnu.org].
      • by sydlexic ( 563791 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @07:29PM (#3487658)
        and available source != Open Source. Open Source proponents have gone to great lengths to establish a set of critera for evaluating licenses against Open Source standards. those standards insure that licenses to not permit the removal of source from the community once it is made available. if "available" meant "open", then Windows is open. the source is available if you sign the right licenses... just like java.
    • Websphere studio at least the newer versions run using the Eclipse package which is open source based off of netbeans I believe. Additionally I believe that the webserver itself uses apache code and tomcat.

      The newer builds of Websphere studio are amazing. I've edited HTML/XML/XSL/CSS/Javascript/Java/XHTML in it and it's great. Unfortunately the price tag is pretty steep at 3000-6000 per seat for the studio package depending on who you talk to. Eclipse is "free" and is the core that Websphere studio is built off of but it doesn't appear to have ALL the features studio has (but hey for editing Java it's excellent compared to some of the other crap out there).
      • A quick correction -- eclipse is NOT based off netbeans. The eclipse source was developed entirely by IBM (before release to the community). The intent of both eclipse and netbeans is the same: to provide an open development platform. However there are some differences.

        1. Netbeans is 100% pure java. Eclipse is not. Rather than using swing or awt, eclipse uses a custom Standard Widget Toolkit (SWT) which uses native calls to windows api/motif/gnome2.

        2. Eclipse is really a framework and set of apis to allow the easy creation of plugins to provide a complete (and not necessarily java) develipment environment. As provided in it's initial release it contained most of the plugins necessary to develop the whole gamut of java applications. Several companies (e.g. Rational) have created their own plugins to provide development environments with a variety of different goals (UML modeling and development). It is my understanding that netbeans is geared specifically towards java.
    • I see nothing about open source anything.

      Eclipse [eclipse.org], which is supported by IBM [ibm.com], derived from Websphere Studio Workbench, for Java development.

      It's java-based application which can be running on many platforms including Linux.

      You really need to click few more buttons, the link is near to where you download websphere. :)
    • Major open-source components? Which?

      IBM has contributed some important components to the Apache Jakarta and XML projects. They have also contributed the Eclipse IDE, and considerable code to the Linux kernel effort.

  • I wonder... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Mrdzone ( 562353 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @05:26PM (#3487071) Homepage
    what they are going to do with the old hardware. I can see it now your very own piece of ebay right at your house!
    • by Phroggy ( 441 )
      what they are going to do with the old hardware. I can see it now your very own piece of ebay right at your house!

      I'm thinking auctioning it off would be most appropriate.
    • what they are going to do with the old hardware. I can see it now your very own piece of ebay right at your house!
      I wonder if they'll sell it on the new ebay?

    • Just a piece? Why not pool your money with some pals and buy them all?

      Then you'll be able to say

      *groan* I'm sorry.
  • by Pituritus Ani ( 247728 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @05:27PM (#3487076) Homepage
    in the second paragraph. I guess the lawsuit from Pillsbury will be rolling in any minute now.

    I also found this amusing (emphasis mine):

    eBay confirms that it was dazzled by IBM's expertise with the
    open-standard Java programming language . . .

    While Java could be called "open," compared with, say, the Windows API, I don't believe Sun has turned control over the language specification to a standards body.

    • Actually they did, but then SUN found out they couldn't control the body, so they took it back.

    • Have you heard of? (Score:5, Informative)

      by md17 ( 68506 ) <james@jamesward. o r g> on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @05:32PM (#3487108) Homepage

      JCP - Java Community Process [jcp.org]
      To take right from their website:

      The JCP is the way the Java platform evolves. It's an open organization of international Java developers and licensees whose charter is to develop and revise Java technology specifications, reference implementations, and technology compatibility kits. Both Java technology and the JCP were originally created by Sun Microsystems, however, the JCP has evolved from the informal process that Sun used beginning in 1995, to a formalized process overseen by representatives from many organizations across the Java community.

      Come on people, do your research before you blab this stuff.
      • So an independent organization can publish a Java language specification without Sun's blessing? Thanks for edifying me.
      • If Java is so open, where do I download the Java Compatibility Kit (the test suite for Java VMs)? The only way I've heard of is to agree to the SCSL and agree to pay royalties to Sun.
        • And where would I get a similar compatibility kit to check for standards compliance on, say, a C++ compiler? Oh yeah, despite being a standard, C++ does not have a compliance kit, nor does it have any way to enforce adherance to a standard.
    • While the Java trademark and JVM are still Sun-controlled, the various Java APIs are standardized by a community process which in fact tends to be dominated by IBM.
  • Open standard? (Score:1, Redundant)

    by km790816 ( 78280 )
    "IBM's expertise with the open-standard Java programming language..."

    Open standard? Did I read this wrong?
  • IBM with their infinite wisdom
    (KNOWING what happens when you create proprietary systems), came up with the greatest resolution.
    Coupled with their hardware know-how, why is anyone surprised that they won the bid due to eBay's high-load testing?

    IBM is heading back towards BIG BLUENESS..even if only one meager step at a time...and to incorporate OpenSource solutions...how novel!
    • IBM is heading back towards BIG BLUENESS
      Methinks you're right. It's a curious mixture. By lowering the bar for competition, it becomes harder to compete with IBM. Of course if IBM gets fat and lazy and sloppy, the competition will appear almost overnight. This makes IBM a very safe choice for big business.

      "hardware know-how"
      That's one way to put it and I can't think of a better term but there's a lot more than just hardware in there. Basically it needs to work under stress and high-load, without things going screwy on the edges and corners. Open Source tends to be better stress-tested than anything you can do with a completely closed system. If you can get the balance right, everybody gains.
  • by pridkett ( 2666 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @05:37PM (#3487132) Homepage Journal

    There has been a fair number of posts about whether or not Java is really an "Open-Standard". The first thing to remember is where this article originates, Business 2.0.

    Taking that into account, Java is an open standard. Are there other compilers for Java? Yes. Are there multiple interpreters for Java? Yes. Is the standard published on how it works? Yes (Addison-Wesely publishes several books on it). So, for the average intended reader of business 2.0, Java is an open standard.

    I'm probably going to get flamed for this, but something doesn't have to be controlled by an [kernel.org] international [apache.org] standards [perl.com] organization [netbsd.org] to [freebsd.org] be [apple.com] open [gnu.org].

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go prepare for flames as I've posted something that people are going to have problems with.

    • Correct, something does not have to be controlled by an international standards organization to be open. However, when it is controlled by one company that acts like a four-year-old that doesn't want to share, then it is not open.

      Just because there are other compilers and interpreters does not make it an open standard. Does WINE make the Windows API an open standard? Does Samba make SMB/CIFS an open standard? Microsoft is comparable to Sun -- they made this, it's their stuff, they can do whatever they darn well please.
      • With regards to CIFS it's controlled by SNIA [snia.org]. You can find the spec at http://www.snia.org/English/Work_Groups/NAS/CIFS/i ndex.html [snia.org].

        It's Microsoft's extensions that make it a problem. Someone more knowledgeable might want to clear this up a little better than I can.

        • by kinkie ( 15482 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @06:21PM (#3487358) Homepage
          CIFS per se is an open standard. What makes it difficult to interoperate with Microsoft's implementation of it is that CIFS is used by Microsoft to tunnel RPC calls which do very important tasks (even basic stuff like looking up an user SID to perform an ACL match).
          Without those calls filesharing should still be possible, but with VERY limited functionality.
          The problem is that (in true Microsoft fashion) there's HUNDREDS of calls, and each of those can have LOTS of variants with widely different results. See any network-related MSDN [microsoft.com]-documented
          information function call. Often you'll find a parameter which is an "info level" or somesuch. Change that parameter, and you change the type of the returned values and obviously the returned data. See this call [microsoft.com] for an example.
          Microsoft's interface design method appears (from the outside) to be something like this:they think in advance, and then they define those interfaces which they MIGHT need five years in the future, and place stubs until then. This has the side-effect that their interfaces have everything AND the kitchen sink, thus the hundreds of calls.
      • IBMJava2-13 says it's open.
        You have a couple of two-ton behemoths to keep each other honest.
        Neither of them gets to do what they please.
        An 800 pound gorilla trying to mix in becomes Microsquish.
        Pipsqueaks like you and me don't really even get to have an opinion.
        Eventually it will become an official standard, AFTER it's known exactly what that standard has to be.
    • Biz 2.0 readers likely understand the difference between a true open standard and reverse-engineered documentation.
    • You gave several examples of open source software, but those aren't open standards.

      If Java was an open standard, independent and compatible implementations would be possible. That's not currently the case with Java, although it seems to be changing for the better.
  • ... they must have been dazzled by IBM's total bs when it comes to sales. I've worked on many recent projects where IBM has been pushing WebSphere really really hard. Some of it is interesting stuff, other parts of it is real crap. But then I suppose I could say that about any technology. And then there's IBM Global Services... It's a great win for J2EE, but it's too bad for eBay.
  • Yeah... (Score:4, Funny)

    by NickRob ( 575331 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @05:44PM (#3487172)
    But did they meet the reserve? They might be bragging and lose again.
  • Closing Quote (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Etcetera ( 14711 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @05:44PM (#3487176) Homepage

    I really like the closing quote from the article:
    "Open-source is bigger than IBM."

    Hey, any additional fodder for my efforts to convince my boss to move over to completely open-source technologies is fine with me! It's really heartening to hear a company like IBM say that though. More reinforcement that this paradigm is here to stay, and isn't just some sort of post-modern fad.
    • An intellectual snob is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overature and not think of
      The Lone Ranger.

      If that's the definition of an intellectual snob, then what do you call someone who knows the proper spelling of "overture" and condescendingly points it out to people?

  • by dbretton ( 242493 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @05:52PM (#3487222) Homepage
    IBM Cited In Massive Online Scam
    Reuters, Inc.

    Ebay (www.ebay.com, NSDQ: EBAY), the world's largest online auction site, is reporting that it has been hoodwinked in an internet scam, involving International Business Machines (IBM), Inc.
    "They promised us all of these great services, and even showed us pictures and everything", claims Dave Hubnard, Ebay's CTO.
    "It looked so, perfect. They responded to all of our emails quickly and professionally. I really don't know what happened. They even sniped in at the last minute with an ultra-low bid."
    Shocked and bewildered, Ebay employees are uncertain when, or if, they will ever see the new services promised to them by IBM.
    Attempted telephone calls to IBM headquarters were returned with a "disconnected service" answer.
    Just hours before the deal was closed, IBM had the address of its corporate headquarters changed to a PO Box address in the sourthern section of Jacksonville, FL.

  • by The-Dork ( 470891 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @05:54PM (#3487238) Homepage
    Its interesting to see the existence of Java being linked to IBM more than Sun these days.
    What with IBM having the fastest java compiler Jikes [ibm.com],
    a Java-base development environment VisualAge [ibm.com],
    some stellar java development at DeveloperWorks [ibm.com],
    and talks of IBM acquiring Sun [zdnet.com]
  • On the one hand, Ebay's backend is now based on some very cool, open source technology.

    On the other hand, they use Microsoft Passport [microsoft.com], which raises a whole bunch of privacy and security [wired.com] issues.

    Are they good or evil? Seems more like a shade of grey to me.
  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @05:57PM (#3487253)
    that if MS would have won the bid we would have had something in windows to let us bid and list auctions on ebay automatically. Ebay make a nice tool called mister lister to bulk upload your auctions. It could have become part of the next version of windows. Now MS will have to build it's own auction site from scratch and integrate it into windows.
  • by brer_rabbit ( 195413 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @06:05PM (#3487294) Journal
    Ebay Computer Contract
    Item # 4886798269

    Category: Computers: Contracts

    Currently: $12,378,462
    Quantity: 1
    First bid: US $10
    # of bids: 3

    Seller (Rating): Ebay (999999999)

    High bid: IBM (10)


    You are bidding on a contract for providing software and hardware to power the next generation of e-bidding monstrosi-sites...
  • IBM will sell equipment on EBay as a normal vendor, thus adding thousands of listings to EBay's site.

    I suspect this is not a coincidence.

  • http://www.stores.ebay.com/ibm [ebay.com]

    This is IBM's store at eBay. The cool part is that you can get some really great deals on IBM equipment here. I have already bought from here twice. I work for IBM, and I can tell you that the deals here are better than the employee discount!
  • eBay has a bunch of idiots for IT guys. They setup one of their oracle machines to core dump onto the root partition. A bug in Solaris 2.6 would overwrite the whole partition if total memory was greater than total disk space. Sun told eBay about this, they didn't listen and install the patch. Guess what, their oracle db cored, and took their whole OS with it. They were down for days...
  • IBM is doing the Right Thing in capitalizing on the open standards, high reliability, free beer, community-developed software floating around.

    All the other vendors give you a single unmistakeable route into a closed box of their design. If I was buying a solution, a vendor that didn't insist they had the One True Way® (and that it cost money) would get more of my trust. I would feel I had a backdoor alternative with a rack of Linux machines and open source software.

    IBM acknowledges that you might want to run part of your business on extremely low cost tools.

    Then, if you want tools that are a step up in sophistication, then they are there to fill in the gap.

    However, in all fairness, IBM's been able to do this because of the huge reputation as ultra conservative banking mainframe vendor types and the foot in the door that they consequently have. That's why small random open source companies would have a harder time replicating IBM's kind of success.

  • So... (Score:2, Funny)

    by doc_traig ( 453913 )

    ... will eBay use PayPal for this one?

    It's such a pain waiting while your check clears...

    - DDT
  • Websphere has to be the biggest POS in the app server market. The thing is overpriced, never up to date (they are up to EJB 1.1 now when the 2.0 spec has been out for a long while). Their CMP engine sucks balls (n+1 selects to find n entity beans) and the so called ripple never worked for me. I have no idea why anyone would pick WebSphere over WebLogic if it's anything other than a political decision.

    Open source or not Websphere is not a usable product. Big, slow and out of date. What do suits see in Websphere besides the IBM logo on the box?

    • Websphere has to be the biggest POS in the app server market. The thing is overpriced, never up to date (they are up to EJB 1.1 now when the 2.0 spec has been out for a long while). Their CMP engine sucks balls (n+1 selects to find n entity beans) and the so called ripple never worked for me. I have no idea why anyone would pick WebSphere over WebLogic if it's anything other than a political decision.

      Last time I worked with IBM Global Services, on a project for a major airline, they preferred WebLogic to their own WebSphere product - and because GS are relatively independant, that's what we used! WebSphere is really a bunch of obsolete IBM middleware products hacked together and made buzzword compliant - avoid like the plague!
  • I think this is great news for Ebay addicts like myself. Ebay is down for scheduled maintainance [ebay.com] 2 hours a week. This equals 4 days of downtime a year which is unacceptable for a company as large as Ebay. This doesn't even include unscheduled downtime which we know is a lot higher! Yes, I am your typical Linux loving Micro$oft hating Slashdotter, but you can't tell me this downtime has nothing to do with Ebay currently running a Microsoft shop. I unfortunately admin a Win2K network at my job and the results are pretty much the same.
    • The question is: what will the downtime be in the future?

      We will have to see, but best prediction is that it will still be 2 hrs a week scheduled. (Unsceduled downtime - who knows).


      Lots of reasons. It is a *rare* site change/redesign/hardware change that can be implemented across an entire environment, like eBay. Changing a major component - whether software or hardware, is just so much easier when you can just boot people off. Inconveinent? Yeah, probably. Necessary? Well, probably not, but the costs (2 hrs a week in the middle of the night - not such a big deal) are vastly outweighed by the benefits (less chance of misconfiguration leading to massive failure, less man hours planning "rolling" upgrades, etc).

      Best guess is that the 2 hrs of downtime will shrink slightly or stay the same. Its really not that unreasonable for a large non-life critical system to be available that much. If two hours is accurate than thats a total of 98.8% availability on a yearly basis. Respectable for a publically accessible website that handles so much traffic.

      It would be really nice to see actual statistics, based on a multi-month metric, that compares the exisiting system's availability to that the new system. I doubt though that it will ever see the light of day (probably against the licensing agreement).
      • (2 hrs a week in the middle of the night - not such a big deal) With ebay being a truely global site which version of 'night' are you thinking about? There is not opportunity for downtime AFAIK, but I don;t know their architecture and this sort of thing should have been designed in..
    • Yes, I am your typical Linux loving Micro$oft hating Slashdotter, but you can't tell me this downtime has nothing to do with Ebay currently running a Microsoft shop

      Why can't I? Ebay isn't a MS shop - the front end is IIS, the search pages are Zeus webserver, the database is Oracle on Sun and the middleware is God know's what. Now think about the relative complexity here. Which is going to need more scheduled maintenance? A terabyte size DB with high turnover and billions of searches and updates a month or the cosmetic IIS installation serving mostly static pages? I'd bet that IIS has nothing to do with the downtime.

  • by Frogg ( 27033 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @07:45PM (#3487730)

    Here's a brief summary of what eBay are currently running....

    For the middle-tier and back-end they've got a couple of Sun Starfire E10K servers (with a third on standby for hot-swap fail-over). The back-end db is Oracle, most of the other software is by Veritas. This all uses a 400 disk RAID array (also made by Sun), which is also mirrored in real-time.

    They're using seven Sun Enterprise ES450s to provide the iron for searching, and the web front end is served by sixty-or-so Compaq servers.

    It seems impressive! ....but it's worth noting that some of the above may be a bit out-of-date, as it's based on the info in these articles, which are quite old now:-

    Article on Internet Week about eBay's steps to ensure performance [internetweek.com]
    Sun's page on what-they-do-for-eBay [sun.com] part way down the page, an article entitled: An Integrated, High Availability Cluster Solution)
  • by Zo0ok ( 209803 ) on Thursday May 09, 2002 @04:31AM (#3489302) Homepage
    [IBM technology strategist Irving] Wladawsky-Berger says: "Open-source is bigger than IBM".

    Such things make me happy for the entire day :)

"My sense of purpose is gone! I have no idea who I AM!" "Oh, my God... You've.. You've turned him into a DEMOCRAT!" -- Doonesbury