eBay’s DSE metric measures datacenter efficiency in business terms

Summary:eBay looks to measure the actual per transaction cost of datacenter operation.

One of the issues that datacenter efficiency metrics have as yet been unable to easily quantify is what the spending in the datacenter is actually paying for; that is, how we relate the total cost of datacenter spending to the work being done by the datacenter. To that end, eBay has developed its Digital Service Efficiency metric which gives them a dashboard view relating the full cost of datacenter operation to the buying and selling transactions that define their business.

The dashboard combines metrics from the Green Grid (PUE, CUE, WUE) along with information on actual power use, users, transactions, physical servers, and other key factors to deliver efficiency information in four areas of interest to executive management: revenue, performance, environment, and cost.



The graphic actually reveals information on the number of servers in use, something that few large Internet-based businesses have been willing to share.

The actual DSE dashboard is specific to eBay, but they believe that the methodology can be applied to many business models. In loose terms, the process is as follows:

  1. Determine the top-level services offered to customers
    1. Examine how users utilize the services provided
  2. Quantify the energy consumed for each top level service
    1. Both direct and indirect consumption in kilowatt hours
  3. Establish appropriate currencies
    1. Follow the flow of software through the business workflow and determine appropriate currencies for each layer
  4. Discover the knobs
    1. Look to see what variables can be tuned to improve the various business processes and look at how to balance service delivery with efficiency

Referring to it as a “Mile Per gallon” approach, eBay is using their DSE measurements to establish 2012 as a baseline and to set efficiency goals for 2013. They look to increase the transactions by kWhr by at least 10% while reducing costs and carbon footprint by at least 10% as well.

Topics: Data Centers, E-Commerce


With more than 20 years of published writings about technology, as well as industry stints as everything from a database developer to CTO, David Chernicoff has earned the term "veteran" in the technology world. Currently the principal of an independent consulting business and an active freelance writer, David has most recently been a Seni... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.