Building a highly scalable service that survived a Super Bowl

Would you bet your career and your company's reputation on a technology you've never used in front of 110 million people tuned into a Super Bowl commercial? Well, I did. And I was a nervous wreck! We were launching a new product during a commercial at the Super Bowl 302 days away, and I was betting everything on a technology we had never used in production. I spent countless nights wavering back and forth thinking about the millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of person hours that were on the line. Everything was resting on the shoulders of this one web service that had to handle the excessive load placed upon it when our commercial aired.

The technology chosen was Erlang, a mystical, functional, dynamically compiled language that was very foreign to this eight-time Microsoft MVP. This is a story about picking the right tool for the right job, exploring other possibilities, and the difference between playing with technology and putting it into production. As a noted storyteller, I'll take you on the journey of:

  • how we stumbled upon Erlang during our dedicated innovation time
  • what made it so special that we were willing to take such a risk
  • what we learned along the way
  • how it performed
  • and would we do it again

If you love a great technology story, I hope you'll join me for this tale of how this web service, built in unproven technology to us, survived Super Bowl Sunday.


Anyone that wants to hear a great story about how Erlang is used and what they found out. Even seasoned Erlang professionals would probably enjoy hearing the story.