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MercadoLibre employs private cloud to combat server growth

by Rob Barry

Since its launch in 1999, MercadoLibre, Latin America’s largest online marketplace, has continually outgrown its server farm. Because the company had started with Oracle DB to run its databases, it looked into Oracle’s other offerings when deciding the answer to its rapid growth would be a private cloud computing system.

“Six months ago we saw our servers growing very fast,” said Rodrigo Benzaquen, director of site operations and infrastructure at the Argentina-based company. “Month by month we had to keep adding servers for new projects.”

The IT department was getting too busy and data center space had become an issue. MercadoLibre has grown to include 37 million registered users. Ultimately, the company chose to virtualize its 400 servers with Oracle VM, switch over to Oracle Unbreakable Linux and make use of the complementary Management Pack and templates.

Benzaquen said the company already had a good relationship with Oracle and the small IT department wanted to do as much as it could with open-source products. He said two individuals in the department virtualized all the servers in three months.

Where adding new servers to meet the demands of growth used to take MercadoLibre a few days, the company can now spin them up almost automatically. With its four new blade servers running a private cloud, the company has seen a 4:1 reduction in space, power and cooling expenses and a 50:1 compression in storage use.

“We have many logical servers and we don’t know where they are running,” said Benzaquen. “But if one server dies Oracle VM automatically moves to another physical server.”

Now MercadoLibre leverages the scalability of a private cloud where virtual servers can spin up in minutes as need demands. The company next looks to get some use out of public cloud. Though Benzaquen said security concerns would keep the company from putting any mission critical data on any public cloud, he said it would be useful for testing projects before deployment.

With so much data to process, MercadoLibre is also exploring using Hadoop. Inspired by Google’s MapReduce framework, Apache Hadoop is a popular distributed computing framework for data-intensive applications.

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