Ant Rowstron

Distinguished Engineer and Deputy Lab Director,

Microsoft Research,

Cambridge, UK.


My full publication list (and on Google Scholar)

I am a Distinguished Engineer and Deputy Lab Director at Microsoft Research, Cambridge, UK, and I lead a team looking at future technologies for the cloud. Many of the projects we run in the team are focused on creating and exploring new optical-based technologies for the cloud across storage, networking and compute (for more information see #OpticsForTheCloud). Examples of the sort of projects the lab does are Project Silica, which is looking at how to store data in Fused Silica (basically glass) as a replacement for tape for long term archival storage and Project HSD that is looking into how holographic storage can be used in the cloud.

I am a systems researcher who has spent most of my career working at the intersection of Storage, Networking, and Distributed Systems. More recently I have been learning a lot about Optical Systems. During my career, I have been fortunate enough to work several areas, including structured overlays or Distributed Hash Tables (DHTs), wireless routing protocols and even Robot Football (RoboCup’98). I worked with Peter Druschel on one of the original DHTs, called Pastry (Middleware’01 and awarded their 10 year test of time award in 2011) and on one of the first highly distributed key-value stores (PAST SOSP’01).

I was deeply honored to be awarded in 2016 the ACM SIGOPS Mark Weiser Award and then in 2021 the ACM EuroSys Lifetime Achievement Award. In May of 2010 I was elected as a Fellow of the British Computer Society and in Sept 2020 I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Here are some images of data being stored in glass – starting in 2017 through to 2019. To learn more about how we write the data look at this animation:

A close up of a screen

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Sounds exciting? We are always looking for really talented people who would like to join the team, especially people who are interested in internships or post-doc positions, from a wide range of backgrounds.

Recent publications:

·        Andromachi Chatzieleftheriou, Ioan Stefanovici, Dushyanth Narayanan, Benn Thomsen, Ant Rowstron “Could cloud storage be disrupted in the next decade?”, 12th USENIX Workshop on Hot Topics in Storage and File Systems (HotStorage 20), July 2020 [ pdf ]

·        Patrick Anderson, Richard Black, Ausra Cerkauskaite, Andromachi Chatzieleftheriou, James Clegg, Chris Dainty, Raluca Diaconu, Rokas Drevinskas, Austin Donnelly, Alexander L. Gaunt, Andreas Georgiou, Ariel Gomez Diaz, Peter G. Kazansky, David Lara, Sergey Legtchenko, Sebastian Nowozin, Aaron Ogus, Douglas Phillips, Antony Rowstron, Masaaki Sakakura, Ioan Stefanovici, Benn Thomsen, Lei Wang, Hugh Williams and Mengyang Yang, “Glass: A New Media for a New Era?”, HotStorage, July 2018. [ pdf ]

·        Andromachi Chatzieleftheriou, Sergey Legtchenko, Hugh Williams, and Antony Rowstron “Larry: Practical Network Reconfigurability in the Data Center”, NSDI, April 2018. [ pdf ]

·        Andromachi Chatzieleftheriou, Sergey Legtchenko, Hugh Williams, and Antony Rowstron, Microsoft Research Sergey Legtchenko, Hugh Williams, Kaveh Razavi, Austin Donnelly, Richard Black, Andrew Douglas, Nathanael Cheriere, Daniel Fryer, Kai Mast, Angela Demke Brown, Ana Klimovic, Andy Slowey, Antony Rowstron “Understanding Rack-Scale Disaggregated Storage”, in HotStorage, July 2017. [ pdf ]

·        Richard Black, Austin Donnelly, Dave Harper, Aaron Ogus, Antony Rowstron “Feeding the Pelican: Using Archival Hard Drives for Cold Storage Racks”, in HotStorage, June 2016. [ pdf ]

I try to select research themes to work on that I believe will have an impact in the real world. Often it turns out my belief is misplaced, but occasionally not! The work on distributed systems has had some internal impact; Pastry directly contributed to both the Windows DRT API and the related Windows PNRP API (the former even includes a leaf set).  LiveStation licensed some of our P2P work around Pastry and SplitStream (SOSP’03). We evangelized the work on Squirrel (PODC’02) to many teams, and then BranchCache was created.  Since moving to focus more on storage; IOFlow (SOSP’13) resulted in the SMB Bandwidth Limiting feature in Windows Server 2012 R2, and also inspired the end-to-end Storage QoS feature in Windows Server 2016 (see blog). Pelican (OSDI’14) is now owned by Azure.

Selected publications from my time at Microsoft Research:

·        Sergey Legtchenko, Nicholas Chen, Daniel Cletheroe, Antony Rowstron, Hugh Williams, and Xiaohan Zhao “XFabric: A Reconfigurable In-Rack Network for Rack-Scale Computers”, in NSDI, March 2016. [ pdf ]

·        Shobana Balakrishnan, Richard Black, Austin Donnelly, Paul England, Adam Glass, Dave Harper, Sergey Legtchenko, A, Ogus, E. Peterson and A. Rowstron “Pelican: A building block for exascale cold data storage” in OSDI, October 2014 [ pdf ]

·        Fahad R Dogar, Thomas Karagiannis, Hitesh Ballani, and Antony Rowstron, “Decentralized Task-aware Scheduling for Data Center Networks”, in SIGCOMM, ACM, August 2014 [ pdf ]

·        Eno Thereska, Hitesh Ballani, Greg O'Shea, Thomas Karagiannis, Antony Rowstron, Tom Talpey, and Timothy Zhu “IOFlow: A Software-Defined Storage Architecture” SOSP'13, Farmington, PA, USA, November 2013. [ pdf ]

·        Christos Gkantsidis, Dimitris Vytiniotis, Orion Hodson, Dushyanth Narayanan, Florin Dinu, Antony Rowstron "Rhea: Automatic Filtering for Unstructured Cloud Storage", NSDI, April 2013 [ pdf  ]

·        Virajith Jalaparti, Hitesh Ballani, Paolo Costa. Thomas Karagiannis and Antony Rowstron "Bridging the Tenant-Provider Gap in Cloud Services". Proceedings SOCC, Oct, 2012 [ pdf  ]

·        Paolo Costa, Austin Donnelly, Ant Rowstron, Greg O'Shea. "Camdoop: Exploiting In-network Aggregation for Big Data Applications", NSDI, 2012 [ pdf  ]

·        C. Wilson, H. Ballani, T. Karagiannis and A. Rowstron. "Better Never than Late: Meeting Deadlines in Datacenter Networks",Sigcomm,2011. [ pdf ]

·        H. Ballani, P. Costa, T. Karagiannis and A. Rowstron. "Towards Predictable Datacenter Networks", Sigcomm, 2011. [ pdf ]

·        H. Abu-Libdeh, P. Costa, A. Rowstron, G. O'Shea and A. Donnelly. "Symbiotic routing in future data centers", Sigcomm, 2010. [ pdf ]

·        D. Narayanan, A. Donnelly, E. Thereska, S. Elnikety and A. Rowstron. "Migrating server storage to SSDs: analysis of tradeoffs", EuroSys 2009. [ pdf ]

·        D. Narayanan, A. Donnelly, E. Thereska, S. Elnikety and A. Rowstron. "Everest: Scaling down peak loads through I/O off-loading", OSDI, 2008. [ pdf]

·        T. Karagiannis, R. Mortier and A. Rowstron. "Network exception handlers: host-network control in enterprise networks", Sigcomm, 2008 [ pdf]

·        D. Narayanan, A. Donnelly and A. Rowstron. "Write Off-loading: Practical power management for enterprise storage", FAST, 2008 [ pdf ] (invited to submit to ACM TOS)

·        D. Narayanan, A. Donnelly, R. Mortier and A. Rowstron. "Delay Aware Querying with Seaweed", VLDB, 2006 [ pdf ] (forwarded to the VLDB Journal best of 2006)

·        M. Caesar, M. Castro, E. Nightingale, G. O'Shea and A. Rowstron, "Virtual Ring Routing: Network routing inspired by DHTs", Sigcomm, 2006.  [ pdf ]

·        M. Costa, J. Crowcroft, M. Castro, A. Rowstron, L. Zhou, L. Zhang, and P. Barham, "Vigilante: End-to-End Containment of Internet Worms", SOSP, 2005.[ pdf ]

·        M. Castro, M. Costa, and A. Rowstron, "Debunking some myths about structured and unstructured overlays", NSDI, 2005. [ pdf ]

·        L. Zhuang, F. Zhou, B. Y. Zhao and A. Rowstron, "Cashmere: Resilient Anonymous Routing", NSDI, 2005. [ pdf ]

·        M. Castro, P. Druschel, A-M. Kermarrec, A. Nandi, A. Rowstron and A. Singh, "SplitStream: High-bandwidth multicast in cooperative environments", SOSP, 2003.   [ pdf  ]

·        M. Castro, P. Druschel, A-M. Kermarrec and A. Rowstron, "SCRIBE: A large-scale and decentralized application-level multicast infrastructure", IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communication (JSAC), October 2002.  [ pdf ]

·        M. Castro, P. Druschel, A. Ganesh, A. Rowstron, and D. S. Wallach, "Secure routing for structured peer-to-peer overlay networks", OSDI,  December 2002. [ pdf ]

·        S. Iyer, A. Rowstron and P. Druschel, "SQUIRREL: A decentralized, peer-to-peer web cache", PODC,  July 2002. [ pdf ]

·        A. Rowstron and P. Druschel, "Pastry: Scalable, decentralized object location and routing for large-scale peer-to-peer systems", Middleware, 2001. [ pdf ]

o   (10 year best paper award from Middleware awarded in 2011)

·        A. Rowstron and P. Druschel, "Storage management and caching in PAST, a large-scale, persistent peer-to-peer storage utility", SOSP, October 2001.  [ pdf  ]

·        A-M Kermarrec, A. Rowstron, M. Shapiro and P. Druschel. "The IceCube approach to the reconciliation of divergent replicas", PODC, 2001. [ pdf ]

Short career summary:

Since May 1999 I have been working at Microsoft Research in the UK, where today I am a Distinguished Engineer and Deputy Lab Director. My research interests are broad, covering the spectrum of systems, distributed systems, storage and networking. I received an MEng degree in Computer Systems and Software Engineering in 1993 and a DPhil degree in Computer Science in 1997 both from the University of York, UK. After completing my DPhil studies, I joined Cambridge University in November 1996, initially as a Research Associate in the Computer Laboratory and then as a Senior Research Associate in the Engineering Department, Cambridge. During this time, I was a consultant for the Olivetti and Oracle Research Laboratory (ORL) (which became the AT&T Research Cambridge in 1998).