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Developer Diaries

Pushing Petaflops

Jerry Heyman

Employer: IBM Systems and Technology Group

Job: Technical consultant

Editor's Note: IBM recently unveiled its next-generation BlueGene/P High-Performance Computing architecture, capable of continuous petaflop-level operation.

DDJ: What's your job at IBM?

JH: Technical consultant within Business Systems Enablement, focusing on ISV support for IBM's BlueGene and other Deep Computing/High Performance Computing.

DDJ: What do you like about your job?

JH: Working with the latest HPC technologies and seeing them come to fruition in the marketplace. Working with vendors and understanding their particular issues porting code to BlueGene. I get great satisfaction helping them solve these issues.

DDJ: What do you find challenging about your job?

JH: Understanding the HPC business opportunities. Having previously been in IBM's Software Group, the goal there was to have the same software on everyone's platform. Now the goal is to optimize software so that it runs best on our hardware. HPC can have wide adaptation by pushing into new areas, so understanding these new (and possibly specific) requirements adds to the challenge.

DDJ: What have you found that makes your job easier?

JH: As the new kid on the block, having coworkers and a manager who are willing to go that extra mile to help me understand what I need to focus on, and how to accomplish those tasks. HPC can have a much wider application, and as I learn from my peers, I've been able to see where that future may be.

Nice Set of Threads

David R. Mackay

Employer: Intel

Job: Technical Consulting Lead

DDJ: Where do you work?

DRM: I work for Intel Corporation in the Software and Solutions Group.

DDJ: What's your job there?

DRM: I am a technical consulting lead for the Performance Analysis and Threading Lab. I get to consult with ISVs and software developers about the best ways to thread software, to point out where our tools solve performance problems in their software. Sometimes, I get to teach a seminar or lab, which is always very interesting and fun, too.

DDJ: What do you like about your job?

DRM: I like it when I can help a software team go through an "aha" moment. When they grasp how their code can be parallelized and run faster, or they identify a bottleneck that can be removed to increase performance.

DDJ: What do you find challenging about your job?

DRM: There is so much going on, it is hard to keep track of all the new technology, the ideas being pursued within Intel and outside. Some of the ideas never get adopted, and sorting through all of them while supporting existing products is challenging.

DDJ: What have you found that makes your job easier?

DRM: Web seminars make it easier to contact more people. The other week, I conducted a web seminar where over 600 people attended and asked questions. When I travel to conduct seminars, we never have that large an attendance.

Radio Head

Grant Szabo

Employer: Direct Marketing Results, Cincinnati, Ohio

Job: Chief Information Officer

DDJ: What do you like about your job?

GS: DMR is not a large company, and my job provides a great blend of strategic and tactical responsibilities. I manage a small team, help set the technical direction of the company, and get to personally help solve complex business problems through software automation. It's very hands-on at all times, allowing me to stay immersed in technology.

DDJ: What do you find challenging about your job?

GS: DMR works exclusively within the radio industry, helping our clients (radio stations) improve their ratings. Ratings periods are cyclical, with a strong emphasis on the spring and the fall. So our business has two peak periods each year where the workload is extreme and our systems are pushed to the max. The down periods often aren't long enough to fully vet out new systems, and this can create many challenges. There's never a dull moment.

DDJ: What have you found that makes your job easier?

GS: First and foremost, having the right team in place is key to making my job easier. I have a team that I can count on that does a great job day in and day out. Since coming to DMR, my vision has been to push data processes out to the business users, removing dependence upon my team for generation of data components. Over the past two years we've developed software applications that have pushed many of these processes out, making the job of my team more focused on exception management.

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