Colloquium: Networking as a First-Class Cloud Resource

By Mairin DuffySeptember 18th, 2018in Colloquium Series, Events, News, Upcoming

Red Hat Collaboratory at Boston University Colloquium

Rodrigo Fonseca

Associate Professor, Computer Science Department, Brown University

Networking as a First-Class Cloud Resource


Tenants in a cloud can specify, and are generally charged by, resources such as CPU, storage, and memory. There are dozens of different bundles of these resources tenants can choose from, and many different pricing schemes, including spot markets for left over resource. This is not the case for networking, however. Most of the time, networking is treated as basic infrastructure, and tenants, apart from connectivity, have very little to choose from in terms of network properties such as priorities, bandwidth, or deadlines for flows. In this talk I look into why that is, and whether networking could be treated as a first-class resource. The networking community has developed plenty of mechanisms for different networking properties, and programmable network elements enable much more fine-grained control and allocation of network resources. We argue that there may be a catch-22, as tenants can’t specify what they want, and providers, not seeing different needs, don’t provide different services, or charge differently for these services. I will discuss a prototype we have designed with the Mass Open Cloud project, which provides a much more expressive interface between tenants and the cloud for networking resources, improving efficiency, fostering innovation, and even allowing for a marketplace for networking resources.


Rodrigo Fonseca is an associate professor at Brown University’s Computer Science Department. He holds a PhD from UC Berkeley, and a MSc and BSc from UFMG. Prior to Brown, he was also a visiting researcher at Yahoo! Research. He is broadly interested in networking, distributed systems, and operating systems, and is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award, and of a 2015 SOSP Best Paper Award. His research involves seeking better ways to build, operate, and diagnose distributed systems, including large-scale internet systems, cloud computing, and mobile computing.


  • 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM: Pizza & Networking
  • 12:00 – 1:00 PM: Talk and Discussion


Contact the Collaboratory with any questions you may have about this event.

Colloquium: The Future of Enterprise Application Development in the Cloud

By Mairin DuffySeptember 13th, 2018in Colloquium Series, Events, News, Upcoming

Red Hat Collaboratory at Boston University Colloquium

Mark Little

Red Hat, Vice President of Engineering and JBoss Middleware CTO

The Future of Enterprise Application Development in the Cloud


Since the dawn of the cloud, developers have been inundated with a range of different recommended architectural approaches such as Web Services, REST or microservices, as well as just as many different frameworks or stacks, including AWS, Java EE, Spring Boot and now Eclipse MicroProfile. Throw in the explosion of programming languages, such as Golang and Swift and it’s no wonder a developer today could be forgiven for being confused about where is the right place to start. In this session we will look at how cloud and large scale distributed systems problems are influencing the research behind, and evolution of application development stacks and frameworks. We will describe some of the fundamental research challenges in areas including reactive programming, serverless, fault tolerance and multi-tenancy.


Mark Little leads the technical direction, research, and development for Red Hat JBoss Middleware. Prior to taking over this role in 2008, Mark served as the SOA technical development manager and director of standards. Additionally, Mark was a chief architect, and co-founder at Arjuna Technologies, a spin-off from HP, where he was Distinguished Engineer. He has worked in the area of reliable distributed systems since the mid-80s with a PhD in fault-tolerant distributed systems, replication, and transactions. Mark is also a professor at Newcastle University and Lyon University.


  • 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM: Pizza & Networking
  • 12:00 – 1:00 PM: Talk and Discussion


Contact the Collaboratory with any questions you may have about this event.

Boston University ranked among Most Innovative Universities in US News & World Report

By Mairin DuffySeptember 11th, 2018in News
Jeff Costello (ENG’17) (from left), Jason Yung (ENG’17), and Dong Hoon Kim (ENG’19) at the Engineering Product Innovation Center (EPIC). Photo by Jackie Ricciardi courtesy BU Today
BU Today posted a story on the new US News & World Report education rankings that place Boston University at the #28 slot of the “Most Innovative Schools” in the US. The Red Hat Collaboratory was cited as one of the programs involved in BU’s innovation engine leading to this ranking. BU was one of only 36 universities from the full list of 301 schools to make the Most Innovative School listing. Read the full story at BU Today: “US News Lists BU among Most Innovative Universities”.

Colloquium: Towards Tail Latency-Aware Caching in Large Web Services

Red Hat Collaboratory at Boston University Colloquium

Daniel S. Berger

2018 Mark Stehlik Postdoctoral Fellow in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University

Towards Tail Latency-Aware Caching in Large Web Services


Tail latency is of great importance in user-facing web services. However, achieving low tail latency is challenging, because typical user requests result in multiple queries to a variety of complex backends (databases, recommender systems, ad systems, etc.), where the request is not complete until all of its queries have completed. In this talk we present our findings for the case of several large web services at Microsoft. We analyze production system request structures and find that requests vary greatly in the backends that they access and in the number of queries made to each backend. Furthermore, we find that backend query latencies vary by more than two orders of magnitude across backends and vary widely over time, resulting in high request tail latencies. This talk proposes a novel solution for maintaining low request tail latency: repurpose existing caches to mitigate the effects of backend latency variability. Our solution, RobinHood, dynamically reallocates cache resources from the cache-rich (backends which don’t affect request latency) to the cache-poor (backends which affect request latency). We evaluate RobinHood with production traces on a 50-server cluster with 20 different backend systems. We find that, in the presence of load spikes, RobinHood meets a 150ms SLO 99.7% of the time, whereas the next best policy only meets this SLO 70% of the time. The team working on this project includes Benjamin Berg (CMU), Timothy Zhu (Penn State), Mor Harchol-Balter (CMU), and Siddhartha Sen (MSR). Will appear at USENIX OSDI 2018.


Daniel S. Berger is the 2018 Mark Stehlik Postdoctoral Fellow in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University. His research interests intersect systems, mathematical modeling, and performance testing. Daniel’s research explores how caching can be used to reduce tail latency in large web services and CDNs. Daniel has received his Ph.D (2018) from the University of Kaiserslautern, Germany, and has spent extended visits at CMU (2015-2017), Warwick University (2014), T-Labs Berlin (2013), ETH Zurich (2012), and at the University of Waterloo (2011). Previously, Daniel worked as a data scientist at the German Cancer Research Center (2008-2010) and as a project scientist at CMU (2017-2018).


  • 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM: Pizza & Networking
  • 12:00 – 1:00 PM: Talk and Discussion


Contact the Collaboratory with any questions you may have about this event.

Recording of Event

This talk was held as scheduled. A recording can be accessed here.  Slides can be accessed here.

Intern Presentation Series: Container Verification Pipeline, Dataverse/Solr, and Design/Marketing

Every Friday for the past month, Red Hat interns in the Boston office have come together to present their work. Below is an event recap for the following presentations: Container Metrics, Dataverse/Solr, and Design/Marketing.

Container  Verification Pipeline

The first presentation was given by Lance Galletti and covered his work on the Container Verification Pipeline (CVP). This summer, Lance has been developing a tool to automate container testing and a dashboard to view container performance metrics. The purpose of the project is to empower developers with the data and resources they need to make informed decisions throughout the development process.
Lance Galletti

Dataverse / Solr

The second presentation was given by Charles Thao and Tommy Monson on Dataverse and Solr. Dataverse is an open-source platform to publish, cite, and archive research data. It is a powerful tool for data storage and research, as it supports multiple types of data, users, and workflows. This summer, Charles and Tommy have been working on improving the Dataverse’s security and redesigning the Dataverse installation for containers. The duo have also been working on scaling Solr, an open source enterprise search platform.
Charles Thao


The last presentation was given by Fiona Whittington and Grace Colbert, who work on a variety of projects for Red Hat’s global Executive Briefing Center (EBC). Specifically, the duo is responsible for delivering graphic design and marketing support for internal and external projects within the EBC. Currently, Grace and Fiona are finishing a semester-long project to develop an interactive web application for the office that will be demoed at the Grace Hopper Celebration in September. View more information about internship opportunities at the Collaboratory.

From Intern to Employee: A Feature Interview with Urvashi Mohnani, Associate Software Engineer at Red Hat

Urvashi Mohnani, Software Engineer at Red Hat, is a regular contributor to the open source community and Red Hat technology. As someone who entered college with no computer science experience, Urvashi never envisioned herself as a programmer. “I joined Red Hat about a year ago as an intern. I graduated with a Bachelors in Electrical and Computer Engineering and found my passion in software by the end of my senior year,” she said. “ I didn’t have much industry experience in Software Engineering when I started at Red Hat, but my mentor and supervisor, Dan Walsh, was really helpful in getting me up to speed with the Red Hat Container Technologies like CRI-O and OpenShift.”
Photo by Fiona Whittington
When it came to transitioning into a full-time position, Urvashi choose Red Hat because of the open culture and strong community. “Open source has helped me feel confident and supported because I have a community to collaborate with. I’m never stuck wondering with questions like: Can I tell them about this? Can I do that? It’s all out in the open.” During her time at Red Hat, Urvashi has been involved in contributing to the ChRIS project. This was an opportunity made possible by the Red Hat Boston University Collaboratory.
Photo by Fiona Whittington
“The ChRIS project is an initiative to cut down the time radiologists spend staring at images everyday, so that patients can receive instantaneous results.” she said. “Open source is great because you can share and get help from the community. It’s nice not to be restricted to only a few developers on a team.” When she isn’t contributing directly to the Collaboratory projects, Urvashi works with the OpenShift Runtimes team to improve products like Podman, Buildah, CRI-O, and Skopeo. “These are basically products for image building, running containers, and container debugging,” she explained. “The goal is to make our products the default.”
Photo by Fiona Whittington
In the future, Urvashi hopes to get her MBA and continue developing her career at Red Hat, her main motivation being to give back to underprivileged children in her home country of Ghana. If you want to learn more about internship and career opportunities at Red Hat, visit their job portal starting in August.  

DevConf.US 2018

By Mairin DuffyJuly 25th, 2018in Events, News, Upcoming

Define the future! 2018 is the 1st annual, free, Red Hat sponsored technology conference for community project and professional contributors to Free and Open Source technologies at the Boston University in the historic city of Boston, USA. A number of Collaboratory projects will be presenting at this event so it’s a great opportunity to catch up on the work we are doing in the Collaboratory. You should consider attending this DevConf event if you are:
  • A developer
  • A technology architect
  • An IT consultant
  • An IT student or a teacher from an IT university/faculty
  • Or simply an IT enthusiast interested in the latest trends in open source and emerging digital technologies
The primary event themes this year are:
  • Containers and orchestration
  • Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
  • Serverless computing
  • Middleware technologies
  • Operating Systems
  • Testing, Debugging, Tracing and Software Quality
  • User Experience
DevConf events are free, without admission or ticket charge. On-line registration is required, though. Talks, presentations, and workshops will all be in English. View the event schedule. Join us on Thursday, August 16th, the day before the main event, for a day of CentOS talks and community gatherings.

If you have any questions about this event, please contact the event organizers via email.

An Inside Look into the ChRIS Project from a Student’s Perspective

By Fiona WhittingtonJuly 17th, 2018in ChRIS, News, Spotlight

At first look Parul appears deceivingly shy. However, my first impression couldn’t have been farther from the truth. A second-year masters student at Northeastern, Software Engineer Intern at Red Hat, and aspiring comedian — Parul is articulate, authentic, and intelligent.

At Red Hat, Parul is working on a collaborative project between Red Hat, Boston University, Massachusetts Open Cloud, and Boston Children’s Hospital to develop ChRIS, an open source standardized platform for medical image processing with the end goal of democratizing image processing and making the results clinically relevant.

Photo by Fiona Whittington Edited By Grace Colbert

Specifically, Parul is responsible for increasing the scalability and power of the application’s back-end utilizing Red Hat technologies like OpenShift and OpenStack.

“My favorite part of the job is the satisfaction I get knowing that my work is going to make an impact for when getting results in minutes or hours can make a huge difference,” she said. “I love being able to tell people about what I do.”

Before interning at Red Hat, Parul felt intimidated. She was worried that everyone would be a “super geek” and therefore be more knowledgeable than her. After the new hire orientation, these feelings quickly faded away.

“The best thing about Red Hat is that they believe in growing as a community. They don’t believe in individual gains, so nobody will put you down to get ahead. Compared to other internships I’ve heard about, students have had a different experience.”

Parul first discovered open source technology in the seventh grade.

Photo by Fiona Whittington Edited By Grace Colbert

“In India, the labs in our schools all either run MS-DOS or Linux. I hated DOS, so when I learned about Linux and how users didn’t have to pay for it — it was groundbreaking for me. All these developers were doing such great work and they didn’t even get anything in return, which was amazing to me.”

Kind in nature, Parul has always used computer science to better the lives of others. For example, the first program she developed was to help her father keep track of his students’ grades

“My dad is a professor at one of the oldest universities in India, which was founded even before India’s independence was established. He had to keep track of all the marks for between 2000–5000 students. It was a huge bookkeeping task, so I made a bookkeeping system for him in visual basic.”

It was this project that got her interested in computer science and open source.

“I realized that you don’t need money to solve problems,” she said. “Where I come from there have been some financial issues and computer science is the one thing we can do to fix things that doesn’t cost money. This is the whole concept of open source — you can find a solution to a problem without it costing a lot of money. You just need a few motivated individuals to join you to get the job done.”

For interns looking to get a job at Red Hat, she suggests reviewing core concepts and having a strong foundation.

Photo by Fiona Whittington Edited By Grace Colbert

“When they ask you questions, give them a solid answer and not some superficial stuff because they can get deep into things as simple as hash tables and then they can keep you asking questions, so it’s important you know your stuff well.”

When she isn’t in the office shattering glass ceilings and working with emerging technologies, Parul can be found reading or telling jokes.

“I love being able to make people laugh without knowing anything about them.”

If you want to learn more about internship opportunities at Red Hat, visit their job portal starting in August.

Spotlight Interview — Jenny McCauley, Campus Program Manager at Red Hat

By Fiona WhittingtonJuly 17th, 2018in News, Spotlight

Jenny McCauley is the ideal recruiter. Reliable, resourceful, and generous — Jenny is genuinely passionate about helping students find jobs and internships.

As a Campus Program Manager, Jenny is responsible for managing Red Hat’s North America Intern Program. Currently, the main focus of her job is on strengthening Red Hat’s partnership with Boston University.

“My favorite project that I have worked on would probably be bringing brand awareness to campus at Boston University and hiring as many interns as we can. Compared to last summer, there has been about a 300% increase of interns from Boston University,” she said.

Photo by Fiona Whittington Edited by Grace Colbert

At Boston University, Jenny focuses on providing students with unique opportunities to engage with Red Hat employees and technologies. For example, during the school year, she travels to the university to do resume reviews and assist with interview preparations.

“We also bring engineers over to the university, so students can come and get to know Red Hat employees,” she said. “At those events, we look out for good students for our internship program.”

Red Hat’s internship program in Boston is unique in that they partner with Boston University to provide a broad range of research opportunities on prestigious projects, such as the Massachusetts Open Cloud and the ChRIS Code Lab.

These opportunities are made available by the Boston University Red Hat Collaboratory initiative, which aims to connect faculty and students with industry practitioners to advance research focused on emerging technologies.

Research topics at the Boston University Red Hat Collaboratory range from operating systems, cloud computing services, machine learning and automation, and big data platforms.

Before becoming the Campus Program Manager, Jenny worked as an analyst on the talent acquisition team at Red Hat. During her two years at Red Hat, Jenny has enjoyed seeing the internship program grow.

Photo by Fiona Whittington Edited by Grace Colbert

“I think it will be really exciting to see how this grows in the next five years,” she said. “We are getting more office space soon and there is going to be a lot more going on as our collaboration with Boston University continues to flourish.”

For students looking to get an internship at Red Hat, Jenny recommends getting to know the company before you apply.

“You can always tell when you talk to students that they don’t know anything about Red Hat or anything about open source,” she said. “There’s a huge difference between that and someone who knows about open source, about Red Hat, and is passionate our mission.”

For all students looking for a job or internship, Jenny recommended students look for companies that work on technologies or topics they are genuinely passionate about.

“You should be trying to work for companies that really speak to who you are and have the type culture that you are interested in.”

When Jenny isn’t at work helping students find their dream job, she is strolling with her dog George around Seaport with a good fantasy book in hand.

If you are interested in learning more about opportunities at Red Hat, feel free to reach out to Jenny at

Intern Presentation Series: M2/Foreman, Data Hub, and OpenSCAP

This past Friday, Red Hat interns in the Boston office participated in their second week of presentations. The afternoon consisted of three presentations on: Malleable Metal as a Service (M2)/Foreman, Data Hub, and OpenSCAP.

M2 / Foreman

The first presentation was given by Ian Ballou and covered his research on Foreman, an open source life cycle systems management tool for provisioning, configuring, and monitoring of physical and virtual servers. Ian’s research is part of a larger collaboration between Boston University and the Massachusetts Open Cloud to integrate one their projects, M2, with Foreman in the form of a plugin.

Data Hub

The second presentation was given by Anish Asthana and Maulik Shah on Data Hub, a collection of open source and cloud components deployed as a “machine learning-as-a-service” platform. The goal of an enterprise data hub is to provide Red Hat with a centralized, unified data source powered by artificial intelligence that can quickly provide diverse business users with the data analytics and information they need to do their jobs. This summer, Anish and Maulik will be working on hosting DataHub on OpenShift, a container application platform that natively integrates technologies like Docker and Kubernetes.


The last presentation was given by Alex Scheel, who is currently working on OpenSCAP for the summer. OpenSCAP is a tool for comparing systems against a specific security policy (e.g., DoD’s STIG or PCI-DSS) and fixing any detected problems. This summer Alex will be focused on improving the SCAP Security Guide, a security policy written in the form of SCAP documents. The security policy created in SCAP Security Guide covers many areas of computer security and provides the best-practice solutions that specifically target numerous GNU/Linux Operating Systems.