Sunday, January 4th through Wednesday, January 7th was the Conference on Innovative Database Research (CIDR) at Asilomar.
First, let me talk for a minute about Asilomar. It is located in the forest right off the beach in Pacific Grove, CA (right next to Monterey). From 1913 to 1956, it was a YWCA and has a number of magnificent and beautiful historic buildings. In 1956, it was sold to the State of California which has run it as a conference center since then. Asilomar has a deep and special place in my heart. I’ve spent 3 days every two years there since 1985 at the HPTS (High Performance Transaction Systems) workshop. This gathering has been attended by many wonderful friends in the transaction processing and database community. Every job I’ve gotten since the 1980s has been through contacts forged at HPTS. I chaired the HPTS workshop in 1989 and (believe it or not), my first grandson was born DURING the workshop (after the keynote, before the first session, and immediately after I ordered more coffee in a crisis for the first break). I still smile at the location of the (now removed) pay phone where I continually called to find out how the birth was progressing. Nick (my grandson) is now at Cal State San Jose. It was at Asilomar that I last saw my dear friend, Jim Gray. Now, I go two times each two years for CIDR (January of the odd years) and HPTS (October of the odd years). The smells, the feel, the fireplaces, the wonderful Chapel Building (where we meet to present to each other), and the amazing participants offer me a rich combination of memories and current stimulus.
So, this year’s CIDR was a good one. The agenda was packed. There was a healthy combination of seasoned database folks and young grad student. We listened to a lot of presentations and had a lot of stimulating conversations. I saw a bunch of old friends and made a bunch of new ones. Someone (who… me??) managed to bring some nice sipping whiskey each night and get a gang off to chat quietly by the fire and ensure we ended up sleep deprived but with a better understanding of our new and old friends. It was a very, very nice event.
On Tuesday evening, I was on a panel with my old friend from Tandem days, Shel Finkelstein. We were joined by a friend of mine I met last year, Michael Armbrust, who is a graduate student at UC Berkeley studying in the Berkeley RAD Lab. The panel was on the ways in which cloud-based systems are, in many cases, evolving towards availability over consistency. I presented a summary of “Building on Quicksand”. Shel did a marvelous job presenting “Principles for Inconsistency”. Finally, Michael presented about his project at Berkeley called “SCADS: Scale-Independent Storage for Social Computing Applications” and then we had a joint Q&A. You can find the papers for these talks at http://www-db.cs.wisc.edu/cidr/cidr2009/program.html and then navigating the program to Tuesday evening.
The panel was a blast… I’ve known Shel for almost 20 years and knew he would do a great job. He did. This was Michael’s first conference but I was THRILLED with his talk. He was clear, organized, and thought provoking. An absolute home run for someone’s first conference!
FInally, I want to thank Mike Franklin, Joe Hellerstein, and Gerhard Weikum (and many others) for all their hard work to make CIDR 2009 possible.