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12/30/2003
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Visa Meets Holiday Crunch

Its VisaNet system handled holiday-season traffic that reached as much as 5,119 transaction messages per second.

The work that Visa USA put into preparing its VisaNet system to manage holiday-season transactions paid off, the company says. The company, which Monday reported a sharp increase in holiday-related shopping transactions, spent much of the year preparing its mainframe to handle a peak rate of 5,200 VisaNet transaction messages per second. Visa said Tuesday that the system reached its peak on Christmas Eve at 5,119 transaction messages a second.

Total U.S. spending on Visa debit and credit cards between Nov. 28 and Dec. 28--the holiday shopping season--reached $97.9 billion, an increase of 14.2% over the same period of 2002.

The ability to predict the right amount of processing power for this holiday season will help Inovant, Visa's processing subsidiary, run more efficiently throughout the year, says Rick Knight, Inovant's senior VP of global operations. "Scalability is something we've really refined over the past 18 months," he says. "In the past, we would buy more capacity than we needed."

Inovant tested workloads as fierce as 10,000 messages per second, but it wasn't practical to implement the processing power and bandwidth needed to sustain that level of traffic. "There's a cost to running at that level," Knight says. "You learn to build the capacity to the company's needs."

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