For those few readers who are interested in High Performance Computing and might be going to this year's Supercomputing conference in Tampa, my advisor Allan Snavely and Jeremy Kepner from Lincoln Labs are putting on a BOF with an intriguing subject: "Is 99% Utilization of a Supercomputer a Good Thing?"
It'll be on Thursday Nov. 16th at 12:15PM.
As with all really interesting questions, this has a quick, easy answer that reveals your point of view. My immediate answer is "No", because of the productivity problems the focus on high utilization causes for many HPC users, mainly through the use of a batch queue. However, when considering the interests of everyone involved (including the people who have to evaluate how money is spent on these systems), the only responsible way to answer is "it depends".
It's an interesting topic that never fails to generate some controversy, and from what I can tell we'll have some diverse speakers at the BOF (including myself, discussing user surveys we've conducted as part of DARPA HPCS). It should be enlightening.