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Cornell University-hosted workshop addresses the future technology demands of the data center and cloud

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cornell University hosted an Industry-Academia Partnership (IAP) workshop in the Statler Amphitheater on October 18, 2013, with the theme "Meeting the Future Needs of the Data Center." The IAP is an association formed to address the revolutionary changes required for the underlying hardware and software as multi-core compute, storage, and networking converge for the future data center and cloud. The co-organizers of the workshop were Jim Ballingall, Ph.D. ’82, Executive Director of IAP, and José Martínez, Associate Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and IAP Advisory Board member.

Several Cornell researchers presented their research impacting the future data center and cloud, including Prof. José Martínez, Prof. Hakim Weatherspoon, Computer Science (CS), Dr. Robert van Renesse, CS, and Dr. Robert Soule, CS. Svilen Kanev, a Ph.D. student from Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, was also a presenter.

A number of high-tech companies involved in data center operations, infrastructure, and hardware components and software were represented at the workshop. Presentations were made by IAP members including Kiko Reis of Canonical (Ubuntu), Dr. John Busch of SanDisk, Tom Fry of Samsung, and Dr. Shubu Mukherjee of Cavium.

A highlight of the event was a panel discussion on the prospects and means for improving the power efficiency of cloud computing by 2 to 3 orders of magnitude by 2020, enabling an Exa-op data center that consumes no more than 10 Megawatts. The panel was moderated by Prof. Martínez and comprised four panelists: Prof. Christopher Batten, Cornell ECE, Prof. Ken Birman, Cornell CS, Dr. Busch, and Dr. Mukherjee.

A student poster session displayed 10 poster submissions by Cornell students on cloud-related work, representing the contributions of more than 30 students. The Best Poster Award for a Graduate Student went to Qi Huang for his work "An Analysis of Facebook Photo Caching." The Best Poster Award for an Undergraduate Student went to Jordan Davis for "Time Characterization and Protocol of Optical Control Signals." SanDisk and Cavium sponsored the poster session, and the awards were presented by Prof. Martínez, Dr. Busch, and Dr. Ballingall.

"This was a very productive workshop on many levels," said Martínez. "Participation was quite high, in both attendance and caliber, and it was very active, which the IAP Workshop format supports quite naturally. Additionally, the Workshop included colleagues from both ECE and CS here at Cornell, so we had broad academic participation, which brought some fresh perspectives to the problems and solutions impacting the future of cloud computing. Industry representation was fantastic."

"I actually thought it was a fantastic workshop," said Birman, the N. Rama Rao Professor of Computer Science at Cornell. "It was an unquestionable success, starting from the dinner the night before, through the workshop itself, to the post-event reception for the student Best Poster Awards. It was truly a delight to participate along with so many Cornell colleagues and students. I view interactions with our industry colleagues like this as key to informing our research activities, and greatly look forward to the next IAP Workshop."

Video transcripts and slides of the presentations will be made available to IAP members. For further information, see

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