Friday, May 8, 2009

Deep Blue to Watson - what's the question?



Seeing news of Watson, IBM's Jeopardy contestant, brings back some great memories - involvement with 2 super projects during my tenure at IBM's Watson research center - our software, including Network Dispatcher was used to provide scalability and load-balancing for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the Deep Blue vs. Kasparov chess match. (How can I forget the karaoke-on-demand trial in Tokyo, using our virtual shared disk system!?)

The Olympics server was the first time that Olympics results were live online - 14+ million queries a day was a LOT in those days, especially for dynamic pages.

There's one great thing about working for large companies - if lucky, you can be a part of big events - very exciting even if you're role is a small one.

I still remember trying to configure our software on IBM.com's SP2 server system (scheduled maintenance with down-time!! - that's a thunderstorm in today's cloud computing!!) in preparation for increased Olympics referral traffic to IBM - the web server logs were flying by and things were not working as planned - exciting and scary at the same time ...

Today, becoming the world chess champion, or the Jeopardy champ, or the next Jeeves is ... no big deal...

Who is going to be the quickest on the buzzer? Elementary, my dear Watson!
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