June 2021 SIGCOMM Newsletter



Au Revoir from the current EC
It’s hard to imagine, but it has now been 4 years since this EC started its term.  I can vividly recall my trepidations before the opening session of SIGCOMM 2017 in LA that marked my first participation as SIGCOMM chair, and I must say that if I had had a crystal ball, those trepidations might have morphed into sheer panic. Obviously, none of us could have foretold COVID-19 and how much havoc it would wreck, and my thoughts go to all those who have been affected and those who continue to be.  On the SIG front, the main impact was the need to switch to virtual events.  SIGCOMM 2020 had to pivot late in its planning process from being held at Columbia in NYC to being the first to experiment with a fully virtual format. I’m forever grateful to Henning, Vishal, and their team for stepping-up to a task they had not really signed-up for.  However, looking back as well as ahead, the SIG has weathered the transition relatively well.  We have not taken anywhere near the kind of financial hit we might have expected, with most of our conferences remaining in the black.  More importantly, we have also learned useful lessons on how to leverage our experience with virtual events.  Even if the departing EC pledged an in-person reunion at SIGCOMM 2022, it also acknowledged the positive aspects of virtual participation.  There is no denying that virtual conferences have made it possible for many more to attend who, no matter how many travel grants we can provide, would otherwise have been unable to attend our events.  As a result, going forward, we have pledged to continue to offer the possibility of remote participation even after we are back to having in-person conferences.
The impact of COVID-19 has, however, also been felt indirectly in the many things we ended-up either not doing or not doing as much as planned.  One of my goals when starting as chair had been to increase the diversity of our SIG, and while we have made some progress, there is no denying that much, much more remains to be done.  Nevertheless, a few positive steps were taken, including standing-up a CARES committee, which even if its mandate is still evolving, has provided a renewed focus as well as resources that SIG members can tap into.  We also relaunched our efforts to increase participation from South America with a student-focused workshop that successfully started in 2019.  It was to be reprieved in 2020, but had to be put on hold because of COVID-19, and 2021 remains uncertain. I very much hope that we can restart it soon and tap into the enthusiasm that permeated the first edition.
Let me end this already too long “closing statement” by thanking all past and present members of the EC with whom I have had the pleasure to serve.  One of the things that serving as SIGCOMM chair has made me acutely aware of is the amount of time and energy that all our volunteers are willing to invest in the SIG and its events, and EC members are very much on the frontline with often very little visibility and recognition for their efforts from the rest of our community.  I am truly grateful for their dedication and for sticking through the ups and downs of the past four years.  Last but not least, I also want to welcome the incoming EC.  The SIG is in great hands and I wish them the best of luck in taking the SIG forward into a (hopefully) post-COVID world.
Roch Guerin, departing SIG chair

SIGCOMM'21: Save the Date!
SIGCOMM 2021 will be held virtually (online) during August 23–27, 2021. Five exciting days of workshops, tutorials, hackathons, technical sessions, social events, and more! More details, including about how to register, will be posted in the upcoming weeks. For more information, please visit: https://conferences.sigcomm.org/sigcomm/2021/

SIGCOMM Lifetime Award Winner for 2021
Prof. Balakrishnan is recognized for "contributions to mobile and wireless systems, resilient networks, and congestion control."
The committee: Marinho Barcellos (University of Waikato, NZ), Phillipa Gill (Google, USA), Anja Feldmann (Max-Planck Institute, Germany), and Craig Partridge (Colorado State University, USA).