No doubt panicking after’s devastating analysis of their uncompetitive IT infrastructure costs [note to JWT: irony alert], Yahoo and Ebay announced a multi-year strategic alliance designed to ward off Google.

The synergies are real. And ignore each company’s problem: Google’s huge cost advantage. Ebay suffered some bad outages back in ’99 and they’ve built out a classic enterprise infrastructure — name brand everything: Sun servers, Oracle databases, Brocade switches, HDS storage, IBM middleware, and Microsoft web servers. At least Yahoo uses a lot of free software.

Google’s marketing is pretty pathetic — yes I know they’ve created one of the top brands in the world in a few years — but actually leveraging their technical advantage appears to be beyond them. If anyone is in charge of Google marketing they should be fired. An Ebay killer would offer significantly lower prices than Ebay — no more features, who needs them? — just lower prices. That would draw sellers and an Ebay-style ad campaign would draw buyers. Where, exactly, could Ebay go? Cut prices? Add features? It would be a great fight if Google really puts some of their cash behind it.

The battle of the IT architectures. I’d love to see it. What do you think?