Feeling a Need for Speed: Our Infrastructure Upgrades

Concur UpgradesJust last month, in February, IBM unveiled Watson—named for IBM founder Thomas Watson, not the other notorious Watson of Sherlock fame. Made up of 90 servers, Watson took the stage at Jeopardy against two of the show’s top contestants. And won. Over the course of three days, and despite being unable to parse the language difference found in the subtleties of jokes, Watson buzzed in with an answer in 3 seconds (most human contestants buzz within 3.5 seconds).

Of course, all previous Jeopardy contestants have been able to fit on stage. Watson, however, is the size of 10 refrigerators.

The reason we bring this up? The whole phenomenon of Watson touches on the ideas of innovation and infrastructure, two concepts that are near and dear to our heart. They are the very things that drive us.

In the last year:


  • we competed the 64 bit system upgrade
  • we deployed a memory device called a RAM SAN that allows us to host some of the most active databases on super-fast reliable memory
  • we deployed a very large memory pool where we cache data that’s needed frequently

In other words, information is available within milliseconds.

We’re also in the process of activating two powerful features in the devices that balance the load on our servers. One will cache content right at the front of our network for speed so you get content faster. The other opens multiple connections with your browser to send images, JavaScript, and HTML all at the same time. Think of this as moving from an one-lane road to a four-lane highway. Your browser receives information in parallel using independent connections instead of having to wait to share a connection.

As the year progresses, you’ll see more upgrades:


  • A new switching system will bring 10-100 times more bandwidth within our network. It will allow our servers to communicate more data faster to generate web pages and process transactions.
  • An upgrade to our monitoring system will collect more data, and detect and solve problems before they escalate. It tracks everything from the fans in the servers, to network latency, application processes, memory, CPU, and metrics that the application produces.

We continuously invest in technology to drive speed and scale; it matters to you and to your users. It’s something we will continue to do. Watching Jeopardy, it was hard not to be impressed with the technological advancements that Watson represents. That kind of innovation inspires and motivates all of us to see what else we can set out to accomplish.

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