SPEC awards, Elves working in the back
By walterbays on Mar 30, 2008
All those thousands of SPEC results make their way through committee peer review and publication, thanks to the efforts of a web site editor volunteer from Intel, and two SPEC IT staff, Jason Glick and Cathy Sandifer. Behind the public web site is a members only web site and other servers, for collaboration on benchmark development and results review. Their job is merely keeping all this infrastructure up and running through disasters, natural and man-made (telco made, that is), while the number of benchmarks, member institutions, and participants grows rapidly, and the services to members continue to expand.
Distributing the network load worldwide, and providing redundancy in case of outages, are mirror sites at the University of Miami, U.S., and the University of Pavia, Italy. The IT coordinators at those universities were given awards for their work.
Though the benchmarks keep getting more complex, it keeps getting easier to run them, to collect, review, and publish the data without errors, and then to search and select the desired information to view. Along with our SPEC IT staff, Cloyce Spradling of Sun has done spectacular work building and maintaining these tools, and adapting them for new benchmarks.
Nobody enjoys flying these days, but we have to collaborate to get our work done. And coming from 82 different companies and institutions each with its own internal IT standards, no single vendor solution is going to work for us. Our virtual meeting facilities project was driven by Alan Adamson of IBM, an engineer from Dell, and an engineer from BEA. It has allowed us to be more productive than ever while cutting the number of physical meetings. Result: a little less CO2 dumped in the atmosphere, a little less green spent on travel by member companies, and some fewer hours of confinement in airplanes endured by SPEC participants.
Organizing the work of 82 member institutions and SPEC staff is like the proverbial cat herding. Paula Smith of VMware and Alan Adamson of IBM have managed to do it. Paula is a Vice-president of SPEC in charge of headquarters operations, and Alan is chair of the Open Systems Group steering committee. John Henning of Sun, secretary of the Open Systems Group steering committee led a comprehensive overhaul of organization policy - clearer, fewer loopholes, better guidance. And Klaus Lange of HP helped make sure that the result was accessible to new members so you don't have to be in an "old boys network" to work in SPEC.
A staff member from SPEC HQ, organizes our meetings among other jobs. This is everything from finding meeting hotels and negotiating rates to acquiring an extra projector or speaker phone, and essentially solving any problem that comes up. She makes sure our meetings are productive and low cost.
Bob Cramblitt certainly deserves some good publicity for all the work he has done for SPEC over the years. Of course trying to give him publicity by posting on my personal blog is ironic because his business is public relations. I may get only a few dozen readers, but whenever we really need to reach our target audience to get the word out about a new benchmark, Bob's the guy to get it done. He also has a very good sense for when a reporter does not want to talk to a PR flack, and needs to get the information directly from the engineers.