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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the TPC?

Table of Contents
TPC Membership
Q: Who are the members of the TPC?
A: While the majority of TPC members are computer system vendors, the TPC also has several software database vendors. In addition, the TPC membership also includes market research firms, system integrators, and end-user organizations. Membership ranges from 20-40 members worldwide.

Q: What are the benefits of being a member?
  • Influence in the TPC benchmarking development process. Given the TPC's tremendous influence on the competitive arena, it's just common sense that your company should have an active voice in deciding which benchmarks the TPC should develop and how the current set of benchmarks should evolve. TPC member participation also provides your company with detailed, advanced knowledge of upcoming changes to the TPC benchmarking process. Again, these changes can have a profound impact on how the market perceives your product and its performance. Your company can't afford to plan its future product designs without some knowledge about how these products will be measured.
  • Timely access to ongoing proceedings. The TPC's membership is a who's who of commercial computing. With a TPC membership, you have access to the TPC's internal Web site, which contain all day-to-day rulings along with ongoing discussions and proposals of the TPC organization, which could affect how you run and market your TPC results. If you want to stay ahead of your competition, you better know what the TPC is planning and what your competitors' positions are..
  • Product Improvement. An often overlooked benefit to participation in the TPC process is how TPC benchmarks help companies improve their products. TPC benchmarks model the basic types of operations that a typical transaction processing system might use, and thus have a wide-range of applicability to your customer's environments. In addition, TPC benchmarks are designed to put systems under maximum stress. An analogy can be drawn between computer and software companies and car companies here. Companies participate in TPC benchmarking for the same reasons car companies participate in Formula 1 racing. Many of the new components and technologies applied to producing the fastest Formula 1 car are incorporated into consumer car design. Over and over again TPC members have reported that this TPC testing process has enabled them to produce more robust, higher performing products.
Q: Can anyone join the TPC? How much does a TPC membership cost and how does my company become a member?
A: Any company may join the TPC. A membership costs $15,000 per year. To join, fill out the one page membership form available from the TPC Administrator. It's as simple as that.

Q: What are the obligations of being a TPC member?
A: There are no hard and fast obligations for TPC members. Attendance at the meetings (held for 3-4 days,five times a year) is not mandatory, and many companies choose to participate passively, simply receiving information and keeping on top of TPC activities. However, to get the most out of TPC membership, companies should consider sending at least one representative to TPC meetings and possibly making the investment to assign one representative to a benchmark subcommittee that is relevant to their company's market segment.

Q: Why doesn't the TPC have more user organizations among its members?
A: We welcome user organizations, and we have had a few such members. The plain fact is that there are fewer user organizations who want to spend the time and resources developing or enforcing computer system benchmarks. For the most part, they feel that that kind of deep involvement in benchmarking is not their job. They feel running benchmarks and analyzing results are the primary responsibilities of vendors, researchers and analysts, and consortiums like the TPC. As long as the TPC does its job properly, user organizations don't have a compelling reason to spend thousands of dollars participating.

Q: Can the TPC be fair without more user participation?
A: The simple answer is yes. Even with the dominance of vendors in the TPC, the process is one in which competitors keep each other honest. As has been often said by now, it's not a system of the foxes guarding the henhouse, but of the foxes guarding the foxes. Would more user participation help the process be even fairer? Sure. Again, we welcome more user participation.

Q: As an end-user of TPC data, we don't have the time or resources to participate in the TPC as a member. However, we are interested in closely following the TPC's activities and announcements. What's the best method for doing this?
A: Subsribe to the Benchmark Status Report. You can also check out the Results from our home page. This listing of all TPC results contains a summary of the system tested, the throughput and price/performance, the total system cost, the operating system, and the database software running on the system.

TPC General Council Meetings
Q: Why are TPC meetings closed? Why is some TPC information confidential? Does this mean the TPC is a closed organization of greedy high-tech vendors?
A: First, the TPC is a non-profit consortium which any organization, big or small, vendors and non-vendors, can join. Second, there are good reasons why certain proceedings are conducted in private or confidentially. Television cameras, for example, are not allowed into court rooms where criminal trials are proceeding. It's recognized that certain kinds of publicity may prejudice the jurors and cause a miscarriage of justice. Sensitive diplomatic negotiations are private, closed affairs. Premature public exposure of these negotiations may very well destroy the agreement. Similarly, TPC meetings are a place where everyone can speak plainly without fear that a statement will be taken out of context and sensationalized. To answer the questions directly: the TPC is open but we sometimes keep our doors closed.

Running a TPC Benchmark
Q: If I want to run a TPC benchmark, do I have to join the TPC?
A: No. TPC benchmarks are industry standards. The TPC, at no charge, distributes its benchmark specifications to the public. Anyone is free to implement and publicize a TPC result. However, it should be noted that the TPC benchmark specifications and policies require the submittal of complete documentation on these tests, which are then reviewed by the TPC Council. If a vendor's TPC benchmark test is determined to be executed improperly or unfairly, a vendor will have to withdraw the result and can no longer use that result publicly. These rules protect users from misleading or false performance claims and preserves the credibility of TPC benchmark results.

Q: We're not a TPC member, but we're interested in running a TPC benchmark. What do we need to know and what should we do?
A: First, you should secure the latest version of all TPC documents and benchmark specifications from the TPC Administrator's office. Next, you should become familiar with the rules/policies surrounding running and submitting a TPC benchmark. You should be aware, for example, that as of January 1, 1994, all TPC benchmarks must be approved by a TPC auditor. You should also be aware of how to write a proper full disclosure report and when this must be submitted to the TPC before you can use the result publicly. Finally, you should immediately contact one of the TPC auditors to schedule time for an audit of your benchmark test. In addition, since TPC benchmarks are extremely complex and time-consuming to run, you may also want to work with a consultant familiar with how to run TPC benchmarks. A listing of such consultants can be obtained from the TPC Administrator's office.

Q: Can I get TPC benchmark specifications on a software tape?
A: No. TPC benchmark specifications are written documents (approximately 30-50 pages) which define how to setup, run, and document a TPC benchmark. Besides the performance testing, TPC benchmarks require several separate security and reliability tests, which guarantee to users that the system being tested can withstand the rigors of a real production environment. In general, TPC benchmarks are far more complex and time-consuming to implement than benchmarks that execute against a standard software tape.

Auditing Benchmarks
Q: How does the TPC's new auditing system differ from the previous one?
A: The TPC instituted its new auditing system to give TPC results additional credibility. Until January 1, 1994, when the TPC instituted its new auditing system, test sponsors (those who run TPC benchmarks) had the option of having their benchmark audited or not. In addition, test sponsors could hire any independent company or individual to conduct the auditing. Under the new system, all TPC benchmarks must be approved by a TPC certified auditor. A listing of TPC auditors is posted on the website.

Q: How do I get a TPC-certified auditor to audit a TPCbenchmark?
A: Call the TPC Administrator's office or check our home page under Organization for a listing of certified auditors.


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