hopes for big win after Superbowl

Now that the Super Bowl is over, the IT staff at has its defensive line ready for an anticipated postgame blitz generated by three ads that were slated to debut during the game.

Computerworld recently huddled with Brian Farrey, chief technology officer at Maynard, Mass.-based, as he finalized his game plan.

Number of IT employees: 170 in two locations Number of employees (end users): 1,300 worldwideWhy did you run ads during the Super Bowl when so many dot-coms bowed out this year? "We were the first dot-com to do a Super Bowl ad, and . . . [this year] we stand out as saying, ‘This dot-com can afford it and continues to do well.' I'm not sure you can say that about any of the others that advertised last year. With our marketing budget, this is just another event for us, whereas for many last year, it was their only event, which was a flawed strategy."

What's your average site traffic in January? "On a typical Sunday night, we might get 10 million page hits."

What kind of traffic spike do you anticipate after the Super Bowl ads run? "We expect quick spikes during the game, for about five minutes, right when each ad airs. . . . We're preparing for a doubling of our usual January traffic for the first two weeks after the game. Traffic will slowly trail off after that."

What impact does that have on IT? "This is the time of year when we're focused on performance and scalability, putting as many servers as possible into production, installing new monitoring tools and reviewing all of our network connections. We do a lot of external volume and stress testing that's all related to the Super Bowl.

"We start in December and finish up two weeks before the Super Bowl. Then we lock down production - we won't make any equipment changes or add new code."

What's your game plan during the Super Bowl? "We'll have about 10 IT people on-site here and four [at another data center] in Indianapolis in case there are issues. Here, we'll have a party in a large conference room equipped with multiple screens. We'll have monitoring tools up on a couple of screens - the Super Bowl on one. And we'll probably also be playing video games - we're tech guys, after all."

Workday: "Coming up to the Super Bowl, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. People are averaging 50 to 55 hours a week."

Must people carry beepers? Cell phones? "People get called after hours maybe a couple of times a week. The database group probably gets the most calls."

Employee reviews: Annual performance reviews, plus informal quarterly and project-based reviews.

Compensation and bonuses: "Our applications developers are paid hourly, so that's different than the industry norm. They're full-time employees, but they're paid whenever they work. . . . We have some project-based bonuses for large projects, and other major contributors outside of development get bonuses."

Dress code: "Is there something less than business casual? Then we're that."

Kind of offices: Open space with cubes. "We're in one of the original old [Digital Equipment Corp.] facilities, so that's interesting in terms of transformation from the Old Economy to the Digital Economy."

On-site amenities: The Monster Den, featuring a food bar plus pingpong and pool tables.

Free refreshments: Bagels, fruit, Gummy Bears, yogurt pretzels, sandwiches and moreWould employees feel comfortable e-mailing the CEO? "Yeah, it's just the culture here that anyone can talk to anyone."

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

More about IT

Show Comments