As Piku explained ir_disable allows you to disable the IR keys on your existing HP Service Manager system, so that the upgrade process runs faster.
Here is some more info about IR Expert:
IR Expert is an intelligent, concept-based information retrieval engine that searches the HP Service Manager database for similar or related information based on a natural language query. For example, instead of relying on exactly matching keywords to find similar incidents in the Incident Management database, Service Manager uses the IR Expert engine and the description of an incident to locate similar incidents. IR Expert assigns a probability of relevance to the query results, and ranks them by relevance to the original query.
The Knowledge Base tool is a front-end to IR Expert. The Knowledge Base form enables users with specific search and operator restrictions to access solutions, specific databases or files, and other relevant data without compromising system security.
IR Expert has lexical analysis for Chinese and Korean.
If you are an IR Expert administrator, it is important to know that IR Expert relies heavily upon shared memory.
In HP Service Manager, all IR index data is in the scirexpert table. If necessary, Service Manager creates scirexpert automatically the first time you run an IR Regen.
More information about the other IR parameters can be found on the SM helpserver under section:
System Configuration Parameters -> Information Retrieval (IR) expert parameters
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You should use your Knowledge Management SOLR like Hans mentioned. This technology replaces the old IR Expert. KM covers all the modules and main fields that is important for searching. You can always add more fields for it to search if you want. The new KM is sizeable and more efficient. It's not free and OOTB like IR Expert but I think these days, most SM contracts comes with KM included. You can continue to search while the master KM server gets reindex and KM search load balancing are some of the advantages. KM has it's own problems like attachments types but once you set it up properly and it's running, it's nice.
If you retain the IR Expert, you could end up like a few of my customers who never archive their records and ended up with millions of scirexpert records and when it comes to IR Expert reindexing, it takes forever and you start to encounter more frequent IR Expert index corruptions.