Chandu Thekkath

Chandu Thekkath is Director/Principal Researcher at MSR-SVC. In this role he has worked on research projects that span mobile devices (StarTrack and Plexus), distributed data intensive computing (Nectar), and  large-scale storage systems (Boxwood, Koh-i-Noor).

Thekkath worked with the Hotmail team in the role of chief architect for the Blue project. Blue has been in production use within MSN since mid-2006 and manages about 6 PB of data on nearly 60,000 disks attached to about 2000 machines. The design of Blue (published as Niobe in the academic literature) incorporates many of the lessons from Boxwood and was an early example within Microsoft of a large scale distributed storage system that provided strict read/write guarantees in the presence of disk, machine, and network failures.

In addition to his role as a researcher, Thekkath has been actively involved in research management. He worked for two years as the Director of the Platforms and Distributed Systems Group in ISRC within Microsoft Research. He also acted as the interim head of the Hardware, Communications, and Systems group in Microsoft Research, Bangalore during 2006.

Thekkath joined Microsoft in 2001 from the DEC/Compaq Systems Research Center, where he held the positions of Principal Engineer, Consulting Engineer, and Manager (Distributed Systems).

At DEC, Thekkath’s most influential work was the Petal/Frangipani project jointly done with E. Lee and T. Mann. This system supported a scalable, distributed virtual disk and file system. It was completed (and made public) in 1997 and influenced the design of Compaq’s VersaStore products and predates many of the storage and NAS appliances in the industry today. Thekkath was also a principal in the XOM project (done jointly with D. Lie, M. Horowitz, D. Boneh, and J. Mitchell), which was started when he was on a sabbatical at Stanford in 2000. XOM has many of the same ideas as Palladium and evolved independently and coevally to it. In addition, Thekkath was a co-developer (with T. Rodeheffer and D. Anderson) of the SmartBridges system, an alternative to Ethernet bridging for LANs.

Thekkath’s holds over 25 patents in operating systems, networks, distributed systems, and computer architecture and has published about 25 papers in the premier conferences in the field such as SOSP, ASPLOS, SIGCOMM, and OSDI (including best papers in SOSP and SIGCOMM). He has also served on the programme committees of SOSP, ASPLOS, OSDI, NSDI, and FAST, which he also chaired in 2004. He serves on the steering committees for FAST and NSDI. He was made a fellow of the ACM for his contributions to operating systems, distributed systems, and scalable storage.

Thekkath received a BTech. in EE (Electronics) from IIT Madras in 1982, an M.S. in EE from UC Santa Barbara in 1983, an M.S. in Computer Science from Stanford in 1989, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Washington in 1994. He worked as a software development engineer at Monolithic Memories Inc. (now part of AMD) and Hewlett Packard between 1983 and 1988.

Thekkath is a certified instrument flight and ground instructor. His cunning plan is to earn his living as an instructor in case the computer phenomenon turns out to be a passing fad. He and his wife used to be avid sailors, but their sailing activity has degenerated into taking the odd sailing vacation. More information is available at www.thekkath.org.