Archived Content

The following content is from an older version of this website, and may not display correctly.
Unexpected by eBay itself, the contract to build the online auction company's next modular data center in Arizona went to a little-known company called EDI.

According to a blog post by eBay's senior director of global data center strategy Dean Nelson, the consulting and design firm met all of the customer's criteria in its proposal and won the job together with its partners AHA Consulting Engineers and Winterstreet Architects.

"This has been an extremely interesting process for us with an unexpected result," Nelson wrote. "EDI, a small company that we had never even heard of before, was able to meet all of the challenging requirements we had proposed to the industry through the Modular RFP process in a cost effective, simple design."

Codenamed "Project Mercury", the Phoenix data center will provide 8,000 sq ft of raised floor to accommodate 12 40-ft containers. The facility will deliver a total of 4MW when fully built out, bringing the first 2MW online in Phase I.

EDI and its partners emerged as winners from a group of six finalists that were announced in September. Other finalists included DPR, Kling Stubbins, McKinstry and Skanska, among others.

eBay will give a high-density product by Skanska called eHive "further consideration", but the companies have not yet released details about the solution.

Mike Lewis, director of mission critical engineering at eBay, said in a video announcement of the contract award that key to EDI's victory was its ability to meet all requirements of the request for proposals (RFP) with simplicity in mind.

"We were asking them to solve a very complex set of problems," Lewis said. EDI were able to keep the design simple while "still being able to answer all those questions."

In addition to modularity, pillars of the design include 100% free cooling, high density, multiple tiers and "extreme PUE", Nelson said. Lewis completed the list by adding flexibility to handle a variety of equipment, including air- and water-cooled servers, to "future-proof" the design.

Gary Cudmore, principal at EDI, said he and his partners got excited by atypical challenges eBay's RFP had set. Free cooling in a location with a hot climate was the first turn of the "Rubik's cube".

"When you make a statement that you want to have free cooling year-round in Phoenix, that's an attention getter," Cudmore said.