Service Provider Cloud

Under Microsoft, LinkedIn's Big Cloud Plans Face Uncertain Future

Microsoft's $26.2 billion LinkedIn acquisition hangs a big question mark over LinkedIn's ambitious plans to migrate its infrastructure to a private cloud. (See Microsoft Nabs LinkedIn for $26.2B.)

While both LinkedIn Corp. and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) are cloud providers with a strong commitment to open data center design and networking, they each have their own infrastructures. It's still unclear what Microsoft is going to do with LinkedIn's data center and network foundation, and whether the work LinkedIn engineers have done on their redesign will last. (See Microsoft & LinkedIn: Marriage Made in the Cloud.)

Neither Microsoft nor LinkedIn are saying. "LinkedIn will retain its distinct brand, culture and independence," noted a LinkedIn spokesperson. "After the acquisition closes and as we learn more about our two companies, we will explore opportunities for our teams to work together." Microsoft said something similar. We hear the situation is still up in the air -- LinkedIn isn't making any changes changes to its strategy and plans just yet, and the company hopes to be able to say more in three to four weeks.

LinkedIn laid out its infrastructure in a blog post in March. The LinkedIn Platform as Service architecture, launched two years ago, is designed to automate functions for developers and operations staff, including selecting hosts for new services and expanding and contracting services in reaction to traffic and other demands. (See LinkedIn Launches Private Cloud for Growth.)

Network topology decisions, on which services and jobs run where in the data centers, were previously done manually by network operators making judgment calls. Under LinkedIn Platform as a Service, that process is automated, using a process LinkedIn calls "Rain," resulting in a 50% resource savings.

Like other hypercloud providers, LinkedIn is building its infrastructure, rather than buying. (See Facebook Reinvents Data Center Networking and Google: 'Great' Data Center Networks Essential.)

Complementing LinkedIn Platform as a Service, Project Altair brings online a new data center and data center architecture.

LinkedIn is rebuilding its data centers and networks to turn its platform into a foundation for growth. The company plans to provide a variety of content and apps, including video and other content requiring significant bandwidth, for 5x to 10x network growth. The new Project Altair depends on 100,000 to 200,000 servers -- not Facebook- or Google-scale, but still pretty big. Additionally, LinkedIn has four smaller data center in the US and one in Singapore, with the Project Altair data center going up in Hillsboro, Ore.

Want to know more about the cloud? Visit Light Reading Enterprise Cloud.

Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders talked with Saikrishna Kotha, who leads LinkedIn's infrastructure architecture strategy, for a video interview in December. Kotha said each profile page view taps hundreds of servers. He also discussed LinkedIn's commitment to open source -- both consuming and contributing -- including the Apache Kafka message broker. (See Meet the Architect Behind LinkedIn.)

LinkedIn also participates in the Open Compute Project , an initiative led by Facebook and other companies to develop open source data center and networking hardware designs.

I talked with Yuval Bachar, principal engineer, LinkedIn architecture and strategy, about the company's involvement with the OCP, for a March video interview. Bachar said he sees OCP as a means of getting high-end hardware server, storage, and networking without having to maintain a hardware engineering team, and focus instead on software. OCP lets LinkedIn collaborate with peers in a larger community, as an alternative to working one-on-one with vendors. (See LinkedIn on OCP & Data Center Innovation.)

Next page: The open source virtuous cycle

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kq4ym 6/29/2016 | 4:23:22 PM
Re: Likely transition to MS It will be interesting to see just what MS does with Linkedin. Maybe there is some technology they're interesting in or the huge base of folks they can sell stuff to. But intriquing might be if they're on the lookout for companies that could help it to reduce the focus on it's main business, for some gamble on a future profit center in a different area.
Mitch Wagner 6/20/2016 | 8:08:12 PM
Re: Likely transition to MS Microsoft could host LinkedIn's infrastructure without even breaking a sweat. 
Mitch Wagner 6/20/2016 | 7:59:48 PM
Why acquire? Why did Microsoft feel the need to acquire LinkedIn? Couldn't it have gotten what it wanted from a partnership, with APIs to access LinkedIn's data?
dwx 6/17/2016 | 1:06:32 PM
Likely transition to MS I can't see LinkedIn long-term retaining their datacenters and physical infrastructure.  While LinkedIn has a large number of servers and network infrastructure, it's nothing in comparison to what MS has built.  I think MS could easily host what LinkedIn does on their own infrastructure.  
danielcawrey 6/16/2016 | 4:33:41 PM
Security I would assume that this acquistion would allow Microsoft to become more social, something the company has desired for some time. From the LinkedIn side, I think it would ba good to see them beef up security, something I'm sure Microsoft can help with. 
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