EBay Sticks with Sun as Prime IT Supplier

Despite several well-publicised system crashes that froze its Web auction site last year, eBay has decided to stick with Sun Microsystems as its primary supplier of servers, software, storage and professional services, the companies confirmed yesterday.

Earlier this year, eBay sent out requests for proposals from other companies to replace Sun as technology provider and attracted heavyweights such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Compaq Computer, Sun has acknowledged.

However, Sun "demonstrated a proven combination of technology performance and service," Maynard Webb, president of eBay Technologies, an eBay division in charge of technology and engineering, said in a statement yesterday.

EBay will upgrade Sun's Enterprise 10000 Unix servers, which run on Sun's UltraSparc II chip architecture, with its next generation UltraSparc III architecture, as it becomes available in the second half of the year, Shahin Khan, Sun vice president of computer system product marketing, said in a telephone interview.

"EBay will be going from UltraSparc II to UltraSparc III because it is the smoothest path," Khan said.

In addition, Sun will provide eBay with mid-range E 4500 servers, using UltraSparc II architecture, to increase workload and availability.

John Gage, Sun's chief researcher, has said Sun system crashes occurred because the auction house let its advanced development group use the same server that ran daily operations. However, he said Sun deserved blame for not overseeing better use of the system.

Sun declined to discuss the outages today. EBay could not be reached for comment. Pricing was not released.

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