Gift by Paul Maritz Launches Institute Cloud Computing Initiative

in BU News, Data Science News, Institute News, Significant Bits
August 20th, 2013

Portait of Paul Maritz

Paul Martiz, Pivotal CEO

A $300,000 gift by Paul Maritz, Chief Executive Officer of Pivotal (an EMC-backed startup), is providing the critical resources needed to launch BU’s Cloud Computing Initiative (CCI), which is incubated at the Hariri Institute for Computing, and which is spearheaded by CS Research Professor and Institute Fellow, Orran Krieger.

Recently named as one of the 50 Most Powerful People in Enterprise Technology, Paul Maritz formed Pivotal in 2013.  At its core, Pivotal builds big data infrastructures, which are able to handle next-generation workloads, and which can be adopted broadly through development and use of application-friendly platforms. Before being tapped by EMC Corporation to lead Pivotal, Maritz served as Chief Strategist of EMC, and as CEO of VMware Inc., where he remains a member of its board of directors.  During his tenure at VMware, Maritz led the transformation of the company from a technology leader in virtualization to a category leader in cloud computing.

Commenting on Maritz’s generous gift — the first of its kind to the Institute — Azer Bestavros, Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Hariri Institute for Computing, notes that Paul’s support is quite important, not only for its financial implications, but also because the imprimatur of his name will open doors and convey recognition of CCI and Institute projects.” Stan Sclaroff, Professor and outgoing Chair of Computer Science adds that “this is a testament to the quality and pivotal importance of the research portfolio of our CS faculty to the diverse set of interdisciplinary projects pursued with collaborators at the Hariri Institute.”

In a recent visit to the Institute, Maritz met with key faculty members involved in CS and CCI projects focusing on novel cloud platforms for high-performance computing, big data, and cyber security. The discussions that ensued helped distill three thrusts required to create “An Advanced Platform for Data Science” at Boston University.

  • A Data Workbench for Computational Science Research: This thrust aims to build a data workbench to simplify and systematize processes such as data acquisition, ingestion, cleansing, storage, access control and security, analysis, and visualization, through the development of tools and techniques that are common to a broad set of interdisciplinary applications in a given domain, initially in the life and medical sciences.
  • Computer-Assisted Exploratory Data Analysis: This thrust aims to develop automated assistants for exploratory data analysis, building on Institute projects leveraging this approach in applications such as financial analytics.  The goals of the automated assistant are to suggest avenues that an analyst might explore, and to evaluate many different possibilities to shine a light on possibly-interesting relationships.
  • Elastic Computing Toolkit for Bursty Workloads: This thrust aims to expand the algorithmic toolkit for elastic computing, building on the SESA/EbbRT effort currently supported by the Institute for bursty computational science workloads and applications. In particular, this thrust will push further up the application stack to provide the tools needed in support of HPC in the cloud.

Paul Maritz’s gift will support professional software development along these thrusts, and will partially support postdoctoral fellows and graduate students needed to connect these development activities with faculty research.

Underscoring the timely nature of Maritz’s gift, Orran Krieger, Director of the Cloud Computing Initiative, noted that “support for professional software development is very hard to secure from traditional sources of research funding in academia. Paul’s gift will go a long way in launching the CCI, and for that we are truly grateful.”