Ralph A. Becker-Szendy  Ralph A. Becker-Szendy photo       

contact information

Research: Distributed reliable storage
Almaden Research Center, San Jose, CA, USA



I have been in IBM Almaden's Cloud and Storage Systems research group for 16 years. Which is odd, since I'm not a computer scientist: my education is in particle physics and astrophysics.  I came to this group via government research, algorithms development in silicon valley, and storage research at another industrial research labs.

My research interest focuses on large and high-performance storage systems that aggregate diverse storage use cases, and that are scalable from large to very large systems. Within that, I've specialized on two aspects, namely protocols for distributed storage, and systems performance. I have worked on several projects, including:

  • the StorageTank cluster file system technology demonstrator, which was productized as the SanFS file system, in particular the distributed consistency protocols for StorageTank,
  • the Kybos system, which turned a cluster of Collective Intelligent Bricks into an enterprise-grade storage system,
  • modifying StorageTank to use T10 object disks (also known as OSD, or Object Storage Devices), leading to an industry demonstration of serving video from object disks in a cluster,
  • the Seval spin-out, taking the IceCube and Kybos technology to the next level,
  • Perseus, productized as GNR, GSS and ESS, which adds an advanced RAID back-end to the GPFS high-performance file system, targeted at very large PERCS computer systems,
  • most recently Mestor, which takes the Perseus advanced RAID technology, and branches it out to distributed systems, assembled from individual storage modules.

I'm also a contact person for some graduate schools in C.S. that have a particular bias towards storage systems research, and I have had the pleasure to work with some superb graduate student summer interns and organize recruiting interns.

In my spare time, I am a husband and father, with a few strange hobbies. I volunteer at local schools: teaching computer skills in elementary school, running election campaigns for better school funding, and helping organize school music programs.  My son and me contribute sound to a concert band, and I also play percussion in a high-end wind ensemble.