SIGCOMM FY’14 Annual Report July 2014 - June 2015
Submitted by: S. Keshav, Chair
SIGCOMM continues to be a vibrant organization serving a broad community of researchers from both academia and industry interested in all aspects of computer networking. We sponsor several successful, single-track, high-impact conferences, several of these being in co-operation with other SIGs. There are a number of highlights to report from the past year.
The SIG sponsors an eponymous flagship conference as well as, solely, CoNEXT, eEnergy, Information-Centric Networking (ICN), and HotNets Workshop, and jointly, Internet Measurement Conference (IMC), SenSys, ACM/IEEE Symposium on Architectures for Networking and Communications Systems (ANCS), and, starting this year, Symposium on SDN Research (SOSR).
Our flagship conference, continuing our policy of rotation among regions on a 3-year cycle, was held in Chicago (the ‘North American’ location in the rotation) in August 2014. The conference had an attendance of about 715 participants. Notably, about a quarter of the attendees were from industry, which is a new and welcome trend. Due to our strong financial position, we had budgeted the conference without a contingency fund. Despite strong fundraising, there was an overall loss of about $50,000. The overall financial strength of the SIG, however, continues to be extremely strong, with profits accruing this year from all of our other remaining conferences.
This year, the SIG agreed to co-sponsor of the ACM Symposium on Software Defined Networking Research (SOSR), a new conference in this exciting area, along with Open Network Summit. Software defined networking (SDN) refactors the relationship between network devices and the software that controls them. Opening up the interfaces to programming network devices enables more flexible and predictable network control, and makes it easier to extend the network with new functionality. Over the past several years, SDN has gained significant momentum in the research community and the larger networking industry, but many important research challenges remain. Building on the success of the HotSDN (Hot Topics in Software Defined Networking) workshop, the Symposium on SDN Research (SOSR) is the premiere venue for research publications on SDN. The first event was held June 17-18, 2015 in Santa Clara, CA (co-located with Open Networking Summit 2015). For details, please refer to http://opennetsummit.org/conference/sosr/
As in previous years, we continued to financially support regional conferences in computer networking. The current set of regional conferences we support financially includes COMSNETS, a major networking conference in India, the Latin American Networking Conference (LANC) and the Asian Internet Engineering Conference (AINTEC). We continue to foster the success of these conferences by means such as invited speaker travel funds and student travel grants. In addition to supporting regional conferences, the SIG provides generous general student travel support to all of its sponsored conferences.
We also are in cooperation with IPTcomm 2015, CNSM 2015, NetGames 2015, BuildSys 2015, CFI 2015, NSDI 2015, and MMSys 2015.
Our newsletter, Computer Communications Review (CCR), is widely respected as a journal with high quality and timely publication. CCR turnaround time is rapid compared to most journals: for technical papers it is 8 weeks for review and 16 weeks for publication; for editorials it is 1-3 days for review and 6 weeks for publication. We continue to offer both online and print access to the newsletter. Starting in 2012, we offer discounted, online-only SIG membership that does not include a print copy of the journal. SIG members who still desire a print membership can continue to receive a print copy (at a slightly higher membership rate).
During the past year, CCR established a student mentoring column edited by Prof. Aditya Akella as well as a column from the SIGCOMM industrial board, edited by Dr. Renata Teixeira (SIG Co-Chair). Two articles have appeared already. We continue to present the best papers from CCR during a special session of our flagship conference. This year, these papers were:
This year, SIGCOMM recognized Dr. Albert Greenberg, Microsoft with the SIGCOMM award for lifetime achievement; he will receive the award and present a keynote talk at the annual SIGCOMM conference in August 2015 in London. He was recognized For pioneering the theory and practice of operating carrier and datacenter networks.
The SIGCOMM Doctoral Dissertation Award winner was Keith Winstein for his dissertation entitled “Transport Architectures for an Evolving Internet.” This dissertation proposes and develops the idea of computer-generated congestion control, creatively solving both classical and new problems in network resource management. The Honorable Mention went to Hongqiang Liu for his dissertation “Traffic Planning under Network Dynamics” Liu's dissertation presents the design and implementation of practical, uniform, automatic, and proactive techniques to prevent the link congestion commonly caused by network faults and maintenance.
The SIGCOMM Rising Star award was given to 2014 to Prof. Aditya Akella (University of Wisconsin). The award is for fundamental contributions in the areas of network management and content distribution, impacting technology in both areas.
The Test of Time awards were made to (1) A clean slate 4D approach to network control and management by Albert Greenberg, Gisli Hjalmtysson, David A. Maltz, Andy Myers, Jennifer Rexford, Geoffrey Xie, Hong Yan, Jibin Zhan, and Hui Zhang. CCR October 2005. This paper led to a resurgence of interest in the topic of separated data and control planes to better manage networks that developed into Software Defined Networking (SDN) (2) Sizing router buffers by Guido Appenzeller, Isaac Keslassy, and Nick McKeown. SIGCOMM 2004. This paper questioned the old rule-of-thumb for buffering at routers and contributed theory and experiments to show much less buffering is needed. It has ongoing relevance to issues such as bufferbloat and small buffers in commodity switching chips.
At the ACM level, during the year, three SIGCOMM members were recognized as ACM Fellows: Johannes Gehrke, Robert Morris, Henning Schulzrinne. Also, Sylvia Ratnasamy, a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley won the ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award for her seminal work on distributed hash tables, a fundamental contribution to the design of large-scale distributed and decentralized computing systems.
In related news, two SIGCOMM members, Kimberly Claffy and Vern Paxson, jointly won the IEEE Internet Award, and Albert Greenberg won the IEEE Koji Kobayashi Computers and Communications Award.
Support for the community and new projects
The SIG has been using its strong financial position to initiate and support a number of activities, as discussed next:
o We are providing student travel grants of $200K to support student attendance at *all* of our sponsored conferences.
o We decided to begin support national networking summits with grants totalling $30K, to be given in the form of student travel grants.
o We increased our support for educational activities by continuing funding for summer schools in the area of networking.
o We continue to subsidize childcare at our sponsored conferences, for which the SIGCOMM 2014 conference in Chicago served as initial trial. Here, we subsidized full-time child care using a cost-sharing model for parents attending the conference. Similar services will be offered at SIGCOMM 2015 in London.
o We have continued the practice of waiving the SIGCOMM contingency share for our fully sponsored conferences to give the organizers more flexibility and allow them reducing registration fees. To remain fiscally prudent, we will review this every year for every sponsored conference.
o Last year, we set up an industrial liaison board whose goal is to come up with ideas and suggestions to increase industry participation at SIG-sponsored conferences. A better industry-academic collaboration should help improve the practice of networking, because academics have many ideas that are likely to be of value to industry; and also improve academic research, because industry has many interesting problems that would benefit academic research; and create opportunity for students.
The SIGCOMM industrial liaison board has worked on many fronts increase industry-academic collaboration:
o Finally, in an effort to maintain continuity and reduce the burden on our volunteers, we have engaged MeetGreen, a professional conference services company. MeetGreen will help all SIG-sponsored conferences with support for registration, travel grants, and publications.
Events or programs that broadened participation either geographically, or among under-represented members of your community
o To support the participation of women in SIG conferences and in our community, we support N^2women lunches at all our conferences.
o In addition to the student travel grants, we are offering $40K for geodiversity grants to support faculty and students from under-represented regions in attending our sponsored conferences. This enables graduate students and young faculty from under-represented regions to attend our flagship conference. We have also increased the volumes of individual grants to that awardees can benefit from attending the full event, including workshops.
o We are maintaining in-cooperation status and travel support with a number of conference events of particular regional importance (COMSNETS, LANC, AINTEC).
o We financially supported a panel at a workshop in Uruguay on networking research in Latin America.
o To further support geodiversity, we now also provide travel grants for program committee members from developing countries to travel to program committee meetings
Key issues facing the SIG
The SIG faces two key issues that are both consequences of the underlying strength of the SIG. First, we continue to have a large reserve fund of more than $1.5 million. We have begun to spend this down by removing contingency amounts in all our conference budgets (thus reducing registration fees) and by substantially increasing our investment in the community, as documented above. We will continue to increase our outlay on community support this coming year.
The second major issue that faces us is that networking plays a greater role in society, some research techniques have raised ethical concerns. To address this, a well-attended panel was held during IMC 2014, and there will be a full-day workshop on the topic at SIGCOMM 2015.