Sunday, January 24, 2016
I have had the honour of working with Professor Paul Watson to create the System Research Challenges Workshop. For the first year we focussed on IoT and it's possible we may keep that high-level theme next time. But it really great to see and hear the attendees embrace the underlying issues which are presented by large-scale distributed systems, which IoT embodies: reliability, fault tolerance, security, trustworthiness, data management etc. Of course all of the presentations had an IoT focus, but even there we had a wide range of examples, from field devices through gateways and including wearables (yes, there were a lot of side discussions about whether some of these IoT devices would ever really take off.)
We had attendees from industry (e.g., Red Hat, IBM and ARM) as well as SMEs and arcademia (e.g., Newcastle University, Lyon and Cambridge). It was a great mix of practical and theoretical, highlighting some of the challenges we have ahead of us in research and development. And as with many of these kinds of events, it was the discussions around the sessions that generated as much interesting conversation as during the presentations.
As well as 2 days of 30 minute presentations (maybe we'll try and get the agenda published somewhere), we also held a 2 hour lightning talk session on the first evening. Here anyone attending, whether they had a formal presentation or not during the event, was encouraged to present on a topic for 5 minutes. There hadn't been much preparation for this beforehand, so there was a little concern about whether we'd be able to fill the time. We needn't have worried - we could have gone much longer than the allotted 2 hours. It was a lot of fun. In fact my favourite talk of the entire event was probably here when Jonathan Halliday gave a presentation onf Big Data over the centuries, going back hundreds of years and managing to also touch on open source 400 years ago!
In conclusion, I thought the event went well. I'm hoping we can do it again next year, perhaps with the same theme or maybe we need to change it. We'll know closer to the time.