Tag Archive for EBay

Who Rules the Internet?

Who Rules the Internet?Singapore based ISP Vodien published an infographic which lists the 100 highest ranking websites in the U.S. by traffic, according to website analytics company Alexa. There are over 1.1 billion websites on the internet, but the majority of all traffic actually goes to a very small number of firms. Seven companies control 30% of the top 100 web sites and the related web traffic.

100 highest ranking websitesNot surprisingly Alphabet controls the most popular sites on the web, Google and YouTube. Surprisingly, Microsoft controls the most sites in the top 100. Redmond controls seven of the top web properties including recently purchased LinkedIn, Bing and Microsoft.com. For a long time, MSFT’s online efforts were a disaster. That seems to have changed with Azure, but I still hate Bing. According to the Vodien infographic Alphabet controls four of the most popular sites.

The Visual Capitalist points out that Google.com gets an astounding 28 billion visits per month. The next closest is also a Google-owned property, YouTube, brings in 20.5 billion visits.

Facebook (FB) controls two of the most popular web sites; Facebook (#3) and Instagram (#13).

Jeff Bezo’s firm Amazon (AMZN) directs four popular web sites;

The infographic says Verizon (VZ) now controls the Huffington Post (#49) and AOL (#59) and will control Yahoo (#5) and Tumlr (#12) if the deal closes in 2017 Q2.

Reddit.com comes in at #7 and Reddituploads.com is #61.

Online retailer eBay comes in as the #8 website.

POTUS favorite Twitter (TWTR) is the 9th ranked website and t.co is #25.

Video streamer Netflix comes in ranked #10 by Vodien.

Microsoft (MSFT) controls 7 of the top 100 web sites with recently purchased LinkedIn at #11, Live.com #14. so-so search engine Bing is #17, followed by Office.com (#23), Microsoft Online Services (#24), MSN (#37) and Microsoft.com (#41).

100 Websites that Rule the Internet


The consolidation of all of this web traffic is troubling. The current administration is going to allow online firms to sell all the personal information they collect to the government, data aggregators or anybody else to make a buck.

Ralph Bach has been in IT for a while and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow me at Facebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.

Rackspace Strikes Back at Troll

Rackspace Strikes Back at Patent TrollRackspace, which just successfully defended itself in a lawsuit filed by one patent troll, is now declaring war on another patent troll reports at GigaOM. The hosting firm turned cloud infrastructure service provider announced on its blog that it sued IP Navigation Group (IP Nav) and Parallel Iron, asking the federal court in its hometown of San Antonio TX for damages, for breach of contract and to enter a declaratory judgement asserting that Rackspace does not infringe on Parallel Iron’s patents.

RackspaceAccording to the Rackspace (RAX) blog post, Parallel Iron sued Rackspace and 11 others in Delaware. The other firms the non-practicing entity is suing includes; Qualcomm (QCOM), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Twitter, Trulia (TRLA), Wal-Mart (WMT), Visa (V), Groupon, PayPal, Cloudera Inc., eBay (EBAY), and Nokia (NOK). That suit alleges that the defendants infringed on three patents that Parallel Iron claims cover the use of the open-source Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS).

In his post, Alan Schoenbaum, Rackspace SVP and general counsel wrote: “Parallel Iron is the latest in a string of shell companies created to do nothing more than assert patent-infringement claims as part of a typical patent troll scheme of pressuring companies to pay up or else face crippling litigation costs. At least that is what it looks like on the surface.

Line in the sandGigaOM has reported many of the non-practicing companies (aka trolls) are shells created by patent aggregators. Their goal is to wring money out of targets. Sometimes, legitimate tech companies give their IP to trolls to harass rivals or even create their own shell to pursue this sort of litigation.


The trolls claim they are supporting small firms. The argument goes that without the patent trolls,  small companies — those without the resources to enforce their own patents — can turn their IP over to a shell company to protect it. Rackspace’s Shoenbaum calls the theory “laughable.”

I have covered how patent trolls have been stifling innovation and removing more over $29 billion in value from the US economy for a long long time.



China’s Internet Giants are Massive

China’s Internet Giants are Massive Derrick Harris, writer for GigaOM recently gave us a peek inside China’s Internet giants and their massive scale. The author describes China’s big four internet companies as huge, but not technological innovators like their American counterparts – yet. The Chinese Internet market is very, very big despite the Great Firewall that cuts Chinese citizens off from many popular U.S. web services. The article states there are more of Chinese netizens than all the citizens of the United States and European Union combined. And they use social media and e-commerce just like the rest of us.

The author gives some examples of the scale of the companies providing social media, e-commerce and information-discovery needs to China’s 1.3 billion people.

TaobaoAlibaba GroupTaobao, the eBay-like e-commerce line of business from Chinese internet giant Alibaba Group, does a lot of business. On a single day — Nov. 11, 2011 — the company did a whopping 19 billion Yuan (about $3.05 billion) in sales. According to Alibaba Group CTO and Alibaba Cloud Computing President Wang Jian, the company site surpassed the 1 trillion Yuan (about $160 billion) mark for 2012 revenue at the end of November. Alipay, the company’s version of PayPal, handles about 3 billion Yuan (about $480 million) in transactions every day.

AlibabaBy comparison, eBay (EBAY) posted $3.4 billion in revenue for the entire third-quarter this year. Amazon (AMZN), with which Taobao also competes (although Alibaba also has a business-to-consumer division called Tmall), closed its third quarter with $13.8 billion in revenue. Of course, Taobao and Alipay are just two of Alibaba’s expansive portfolio of services, which includes a troubled partnership with Yahoo (YHOO).

That type of business means Alibaba needs a lot of servers. In a single year not too long ago, Jian told the author, the company bought more servers than it had in previous five years combined. If you charted Alibaba’s server count now versus five years ago, he added, the previous number would look like zero. How big is its database? Enough to store data for more than 800 million items for sale.

BaiduBaidu – The Chinese search giant is ranked fifth in the Alexa internet rankings, which is evidence of its popularity. All those users, I’m told, result in an annual server growth about equal to the previous three years combined. It is reported that Baidu (BIDU) is planning possibly the world’s largest data center — spanning 120,000 square meters, costing $1.6 billion, housing 100,000 servers (totaling 700,000 CPUs and 3 million cores) and storing 4,000 petabytes of data.

Tencent – Sometimes compared with Facebook (FB), Tencent (TCEHY) boasted more than 717 million users for its popular QQ messaging service as of September 2011. That number has surely grown. The company says its highest-ever number of concurrent users was more than 176 million, although there are often tens of millions (if not more than 100 million people) using it at any given time. An individual with some knowledge of the company’s infrastructure told me Tencent adds about 100,000 servers per year.

WeiboWeibo, the Twitter-like platform from internet new-school internet company Sina had more than 400 million users as of April 2012. That’s about twice the number Twitter claims. And the Chinese use Weibo a lot, for everything from micro-blogging to self-publishing. It might actually be a more important tool in China than Twitter is in the United States, sources told the author, because while the government can censor official news outlets, it can’t possibly control the stream of information coming off Weibo. And that will mean even more growth.
Not (yet) innovators

Mr. Harris concludes that, despite their sheer scale, Chinese internet companies are, by most accounts, less technologically inclined than their American counterparts. The biggest reason, the author says is that these companies tend to view themselves as traditional businesses and not technology companies, and that employees often strive to work up the management ladder rather than remain career engineers. This inevitably affects R&D budgets, makes companies less willing to take risks and reduces the pool of employees that really, deeply understand complex systems.

ServersThe blog cites the server situation within China’s big four internet companies. Alibaba’s Jian told the author that although his company is running all white boxes in its data centers now, it had a lot of legacy IBM (IBM) gear in its data centers five years ago. The same thing is reported about Baidu. Tencent, had 10,000 webscale servers fail in six months last year and is considering a move back to traditional boxes.

The article speculates that these companies are coming around on innovation beyond just buying more-efficient gear. Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba, for example, are all members of the Facebook-led Open Compute Project for designing webscale hardware. Tencent and Baidu actually created their own rack-design specification, called Project Scorpio, that is being merged into Open Compute’s Open Rack design in 2013. They still don’t build their own servers like Google and Facebook do, preferring instead to push their custom specs on server makers, but many innovative American companies, including eBay, do the same thing.

Open Computer ProjectFacebook VP Frank Frankovsky told PCWorld, “We compete with those guys, but on the infrastructure side, if we can make our infrastructure more efficient, it makes everyone that much better. Where we differentiate our business is in the service we provide to our end users.”

That differentiation comes from in large part from an incredible investment in research and technology. If they want to be considered thought leaders in their field — and if they want to expand significantly into cloud computing (as Alibaba and Sina clearly want to do) — China’s internet companies will have to start matching their immense scale with demonstrated technological


Ralph Bach has been in IT for fifteen years and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow me at Facebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.

What Happens To Old Smartphones

What Happens To Old SmartphonesThe Business Insider has some new stats on what happens to old smartphones, when people are done with them. The article says for the most part, they just sit around. The author cites a survey by Gazelle, a site that takes trade-ins of old smartphones, tablets and laptops. As you can see in this chart, 51% of people put old smartphones in a drawer or closet, according to Gazelle’s research.

MarketWatch estimates that all of those old phones sitting around are worth $34 billion. (That’s all phones, not just smartphones.) Companies like Gazelle are trying to get people to sell their smartphones to Gazelle, so it can resell the phones around the world and make a nice profit.

What happens to old smartphones


I’ve cover electronics recycling a number of times on Bach Seat.

MSFT Eliminating Backup Generators

MSFT Eliminating Backup GeneratorsThe venerable diesel backup generator has long been a symbol of reliability for mission critical installations. Backup generators provide the emergency power required to keep servers online during utility power outages. Data Center Knowledge reports that the growing focus on using clean energy to power large data centers is prompting Microsoft (MSFT) and other tech titans to ditch their generators, along with their diesel fuel emissions.

MSFT Eliminating Backup GeneratorsMicrosoft is the latest company to announce its intention to cut its use of diesel generators. The move is part of a broader initiative to make Microsoft’s server farms more sustainable and less reliant on the utility grid according to DCK. Microsoft Utility Architect Brian Janous wrote in recent blog post.

“We are currently exploring alternative backup energy options that would allow us to provide emergency power without the need for diesel generators, which in some cases will mean transitioning to cleaner-burning natural gas and in other cases, eliminating the need for back-up generation altogether.”

Energy Server ArchitectureDKC speculates that the reference to natural gas suggests that Microsoft is preparing to add fuel cells to replace its generators. That could be good news for Bloom Energy,  which recently scored wins to replace generators and UPS units at new data centers of  eBay (EBAY) in Utah and supplement power Apple‘s (AAPL) iDataCenter in North Carolina.

DCK explains the Bloom Energy Server is a solid oxide fuel cell technology that converts fuel to electricity through an electro-chemical reaction, without any combustion. The Bloom box can continue to run during a grid outages because they are housed at the customer premises. Bloom boxes can run on natural gas or a range of other biofuels, including methane gas from landfills.

regulated pollutantAnother reason MSFT may be replacing generators according to DCK, is that they have caused Redmond several headaches in recent years, including an Azure cloud outage in Europe (when multiple generators didn’t start during a utility outage) and a public controversy about whether the diesel emissions from Microsoft’s generators in Quincy, WA could cause health problems for local residents. Diesel engine exhaust is a regulated pollutant, and can be toxic in high concentrations.

Or Microsoft’s motivation could be to become less dependent on the utility grid, and use renewable energy to power its servers the blog says. The company says its “data plants” will break new ground in integrating electricity and computing, bring together data centers and renewable power generation.

CowOne type of renewable energy Microsoft has explored is a waste-powered data center. It could be built on the site of a water treatment plant or landfill. In his blog post, Janous indicated that Microsoft is evaluating a biomass project in Europe (I wrote HP’s plan to user manure to run a data center here).

“Given the unreliability of the electric grid and the need for continuous availability of cloud services, Microsoft maintains diesel generator backup at all of our data centers…” Janous wrote. “These generators are inefficient and costly to operate. From both an environmental and a cost standpoint, it makes no sense to run our generators more than we absolutely must.”

Microsoft, WashingtonMicrosoft is also considering “long term purchases from larger grid-connected installations that would displace some portion of our grid purchases,” Janous wrote. Google (GOOG) has embraced a similar strategy, using power purchasing agreements to add more than 200 megawatts of wind power to the local utility grids that support its data centers.

Microsoft is taking steps to position itself to make bulk power deals according to DCK. “We have recently signed on as an advisory board member with Altenex, an operator of a network that enables member companies to more efficiently engage with developers of renewable energy projects,” Janous said. “We expect this engagement with Altenex to improve our ability to identify and evaluate cost-effective clean energy projects.”


Cummins EnginesI recall as a newbie techie the first time I had to be in on Sunday morning to work with the site engineer to crank up the 100 HP Cummins standby generator, to make sure the critical systems stayed up. The generator was enclosed in the a secure room which contained the heat and noise. The exhaust was vented out. One of my regular jobs was to kick the standby 55 gallon drum of diesel with the hand pump on it.