Friday, November 24, 2017

Another edition of HPTS

The International Workshop on High Performance Transaction Systems (HPTS) is a bit of an unusual conference:

Every two years, HPTS brings together a lively and opinionated group of technologists to discuss and debate the pressing topics that affect today's systems and their design and implementation, especially where performance and scalability is concerned. The workshop includes position paper presentations, panels, moderated discussions, and significant time for casual interaction. The presentations are not recorded, and the only publications are slide decks by presenters who choose to post them.

HPTS was created back in 1985 by Jim Gray, as conference organizer Pat Helland describes in his reflections on Gray:

In 1985, Jim and a number of other senior leaders in the field of transaction processing started the HPTS (High Performance Transaction Systems) Workshop [HPTS]. This is a biennial gathering of folks interested in transaction systems (and things related to scalable systems). It includes people from competing companies in industry and also from academia. Over the last 22 years, it has evolved to include many different topics as high-end computing morphed from the mainframe to the Internet.

The amazing thing about HPTS is that it is a collegial and supportive community in spite of the fact that many of us are competitors. We gather as old friends and catch up on life’s changes in family, friends, and work. We share almost all of the latest technology trends while holding back only the truly critical trade secrets. When someone needs a new job, there is a supportive network with common passions. This culture was based on Jim’s natural supportive, caring, and HUMAN approach to technology and persists today.

Last month saw the 17th convening of the HPTS Workshop, and you can read all about it on the HPTS site.

This year, in addition, SUNY Buffalo professor Murat Demirbas posted his notes about the conference, although as he noted, doing so is a tad controversial:

Although some people prefer to keep what happens at HPTS to stay at HPTS, I find it hard to not talk about HPTS. I learn a lot at HPTS and I want to share at least some of those. And this year I don't think there was any confidential technology discussed at all. So I don't think Pat Helland will find this post and shout at me.

I'm certain Pat found the post, but I don't think he's going to shout about it.

Here are Demirbas's notes:

(You can tell a true Computer Scientist because they start their notes from Day 0.)

I didn't attend HPTS, although a number of my colleagues did (no surprise: Pat Helland leads my team at work). Among my team, the panels of most interest were the "Verification of Systems" and "Antifragile Exercises" panels, which were both super-practical panels, focused on how to build reliable distributed systems out of unreliable components. It's super-interesting stuff, comprising both practical tools for analyzing system behavior and finding implementation errors (e.g., Jepsen) as well as practical tools for "hardening" your production systems (and personnel!) in most surprising ways (e.g., Chaos Monkey).

It sounds like it was another very successful workshop, and it was fun to get a closer view into it this year.

Maybe one day I'll attend.

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