Electrical and computer engineering professor works to improve storage system experience

DETROIT (Jan. 24, 2012) – According to a 2010 statement by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, we now create as much information in just two days as we did from the dawn of civilization through 2003. With this abundance of new information comes a requirement for more and better storage solutions.

Song Jiang, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering in the Wayne State University College of Engineering, is attending to this requirement as he works to improve the performance of storage systems.

“Storage systems are in high demand in computing,” Jiang said. “We have so many devices that generate a large amount of data – documents, photos, videos – so there is a huge amount of data to be processed.”

Online storage systems enable individuals and organizations to store data on the Internet using a service provider, rather than storing the data locally on a physical disk, such as a hard drive. With broadband speeds increasing and bandwidth pricing dropping every year, more people are interested in purchasing online data storage.

As the demand for online storage systems grows, Jiang aims to improve their performance and user experience. “Users have different requirements,” said Jiang. “So my research asks: how do we meet these requirements?”

Part of Jiang’s solution is to provide a convenient interface for users. By allowing users to easily specify their data requirements (such as speed and quality of download), Jiang believes that users’ needs will be better met. He explained: “A customer may want his program to be completed in X minutes, but they might not be able to determine the speed at which the data are fed into the program that is needed for X minutes. A more user-friendly interface would improve the experience, as well as make it easier to measure if the customer’s needs have been satisfied.”

Jiang’s research has been successful in both academia and industry. In 2009, Jiang received a $400,000 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program award from the National Science Foundation to develop a more efficient method for quantifying quality of service (QoS), a guaranteed level of performance in data flow. The technology will be developed for large IT companies including Microsoft, Google and Amazon.com, who offer cloud computing and storage services with their extensive IT infrastructures to organizations looking for more computing power and data storage space.

Additionally, Jiang has collaborated with Facebook for research purposes. To allow his research to be readily adopted by Facebook, the company has donated 12 computer servers that are of the same configuration as the ones in their production systems. Jiang’s research has also impacted the IT industry: designs and systems he developed have been adopted by Linux, an open source operating system, and MySQL, an open source database, among others.

Jiang’s students are appreciative of his research efforts. “He has advised me on how to be a professional researcher and how to analyze problems deeply,” said Yuehai Xu, an electrical and computer engineering doctoral student who studies under Jiang. “He provides me with a lot of freedom to dive into interesting research topics.”

Jiang says he has no plans to deviate from his current research path. “I’d like to focus next on reliability,” he said, “that is, how to get a system to provide service data duplication in case data is lost.”

Jiang earned his Ph.D. in computer science from the College of William and Mary in 2004. Before coming to Wayne State in 2006, he worked for two years at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a postdoctoral research associate.

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Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution of higher education offering more than 400 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 32,000 students. For more information about engineering at Wayne State University, visit engineering.wayne.edu.

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