With the popularity of fax machines in the 1980s, offices around the world spread jokes and cartoons around the world at a reasonably fast pace; the advent of widespread email has replaced the fax machine as the medium of joke exchange, and on any given day, a sizeable portion of the Internet email traffic in […]
With the popularity of fax machines in the 1980s, offices around the world spread jokes and cartoons around the world at a reasonably fast pace; the advent of widespread email has replaced the fax machine as the medium of joke exchange, and on any given day, a sizeable portion of the Internet email traffic in the world is comprised of silly messages that people pass around to amuse themselves.
Now that we are in the e-business era, it only stands to reason that email has also become the preferred communication means for stool pigeons, inside sources and other kinds of deep throats who might or might not have axes to grind. So it isn’t at all surprising that analysts at Illuminata as well as several members of the press recently received an anonymous email from someone calling himself email@example.com purporting to have the inside track on all those server outages at online auctioneer eBay, which uses Sun Starfire servers to support its auctions and has had several days worth of downtime so far in 1999.
The sender of the email, says Illuminata, won’t disclose his identity or how he came to know about the causes of eBay’s crashes. Sun Microsystems, which has seen the message, told Illuminata that the message was not only inaccurate, but wildly inaccurate. Anyhow, the message simply says: Here are the details behind the 62 hours…A Sun Starfire is not a mainframe-class machine. Don’t blame eBay. Blame Sun’s marketing. The message then goes on to detail, day by day, the length of each downtime at eBay from February 7 to June 11 of this year and its cause.
Purported crash causes include several different kinds of hardware failures (processor cards failing, memory cards failing, partitions failing) as well as Solaris and Oracle either collectively or individually eating all the server resources. In one case, the emailer says eBay was hacked by a 22-year-old college student (how he knows that might be a clue to his existence). That the supposed deep throat at eBay was too chicken to come clean with a member of the press about his real identity (and thereby go a long way towards proving the authenticity of his claims for eBay’s downtime) is not unusual in sources, but it is disappointing. Then again, with eBay nervous about outages and possible legal action if customers catch wind of its negligence – apparently eBay is using an older version of Oracle and hasn’t applied patches to Solaris that would have avoided many of its problems, and it supposedly hadn’t gotten a hot standby Starfire server up and running yet – the deep throat at eBay might have been just covering his ass…unlike eBay’s MIS department.