Alex Daglis

Professor awarded NSF CAREER Award to Improve Data Centers

Every time you use the internet, that data flows through datacenters. The more people come to rely on online and cloud services, the more challenging it is for these datacenters to keep up with demand.

School of Computer Science Assistant Professor Alexandros Daglis wants to improve how these data centers function, helping online services run faster and with fewer setbacks. Daglis recently received an NSF CAREER Award to help accomplish this goal.

Alex Daglis
Alexandros Daglis wants to help create design guidelines for the next generation of data centers. (Photos by Kevin Beasley/College of Computing)

A key component of Daglis’s research is using tail latency as a key metric to shape datacenter design decisions. Tail latency is a pertinent metric for time-sensitive services deployed in data centers. It evaluates the quality of service experienced by the majority of users rather than the experience of just the average user. Large data center operators like Amazon have found that even modest increases in tail latency cause significant revenue loss.

“I don’t think there is anyone who hasn’t used a data center in some way. The better data centers become, the richer and higher quality services users will get. I want to provide guidelines for designing the next generation of data center systems. I hope to show how much better these data centers can be if we design them by considering this tail latency metric,” he said.

Daglis is also considering the sustainability of future data centers, which require large amounts of energy.

“The energy requirements of data centers are growing as the demand for these services does,” Daglis said. “Our economies increasingly rely on data centers, so it’s important to keep making them as efficient as possible. My goal is to develop techniques to maximize the efficiency of future datacenters.”

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“The NSF CAREER award is a well-deserved recognition for Alex. It has been great to see him develop this exciting research agenda focused on improving data center efficiency, a goal that dovetails synergistically with our school's strengths in the computer architecture, networks, and systems areas," said Vivek Sarkar, SCS Chair and Stephen Fleming Chair for Telecommunications in the College of Computing.

As part of the educational goal required by the NSF award, Daglis plans to develop a summer program at Georgia Tech aimed to introduce K-12 students to data center infrastructure. He hopes to teach them the importance of data centers and show them a data center in person.

“I would like kids understand better what happens behind the phone screen. It would be great for them to learn about the basics, so if they are interested in this topic, they have some background to delve deeper,” he said.