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Lectures and Colloquia

The Future of Systems

IBM Research–Austin

Pioneering the Science of Information & the Future of Systems
An IBM Centennial Lecture & Research Colloquium
with The University of Texas at Austin

On September 23, IBM Austin hosted a combined Centennial Lecture and Research Colloquium at The University of Texas. With 200 students, academic leaders, and industry experts, the event started with opening remarks by University President William Powers. He praised IBM for “showing agility and focus for 100 years … and for the value the company delivers to the world – including how we educate our students.”

Senior Vice President Robert LeBlanc then delivered his “Pioneering the Science of Information” Centennial Lecture. Using three Texas-specific smarter planet examples, including the recent IBM Research – Austin’s and University of Texas’ flood prediction project – LeBlanc focused on three lessons from IBM’s history: the nature and implications of IT; the inflection point where technology is today – and what that means for leaders in every industry; and the new kind of leadership that will be required.

“The industry must embrace open standards to make things work together … and we (from the professionals to the college students in the room) need to get involved in educating our students of all ages to get them interested in technology – and the impact technology can have.”

In the afternoon, IBM Research – Austin Director Kevin Nowka kicked off the Research Colloquium, “The Future of Systems,” a series of presentations and panel discussions by industry and academic leaders, about the future of cloud and mobile computing, and system design.

The Role of Ubiquitous Mobile Computing in the Enterprise

Drs. Mahadev Satyanarayanan, the Carnegie Group Professor of Computer Science, and Krisztian Flautner, vice president of Research and Development at ARM Ltd., led back-to-back speaker sessions on mobile computing.

Dr. Satyanarayanan’s “When Mobile Computing Meets Cloud Computing” focused on the convergence of mobile computing and cloud computing to enable new applications and services that can be delivered to users at any time and any place. “In this context, what is the role of virtual machine technology, and a VM-based model of ‘carry-nothing’ mobile computing?”

Dr. Flautner discussed new application areas where ubiquitous computing could make a difference and become a welcome part of the social fabric over the coming decades. “In a decade, most computers won't be perceived as computers.”

The Future of Applications and How They Will Drive System Design

In a panel led by IBM Research’s Dr. Peter Hofstee, experts from NASA, AMD, NERSC and The University of Texas’ Machine Learning Lab discussed the outcome of a delicate balancing act between what applications require and desire, and what is technically and economically feasible.

“NASA has flown missions, using smartphones as interfaces to specific payloads,” said retired Colonel T.J. Creamer of NASA.

“At UC-Berkeley, we’re seeking to generate movies of proteins folding,” said Dr. Kathy Yelick, director of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center.

Cloud and the Future of System Consolidation

Distinguished Engineer and Director of IBM’s DEMOcentral Scott Winters led a panel of Cloud computing experts from IBM, Calxeda and the Texas Advanced Computing Center to discuss how cloud is a new model of consuming and delivering IT and business services. Users can get what they need, as they need it – from advanced analytics and business applications, to IT infrastructure and platform services, including virtual servers and storage.

“The technology must provide secure and reliable Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions in the ‘IT without boundaries; environment of the Cloud,” said Scott.

Predicting Systems in 2026

The closing panel of IBM Fellows with systems and systems software expertise, hosted by IBM Fellow Ravi Arimilli, looked at how systems will go beyond increased storage, better search, and more complex analytics, to ones that learn; mimic the human brain to increase intelligence; and use silicon glue to create 3D “mega systems.”

“Cost reduction is changing computing, and users have more say in where and how computing is done. So, how do we compete as the industry business model moves toward free computing?” said IBM Fellow Carl Anderson.