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.
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.
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.)
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.)
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