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Celebrating 55 Years of Innovation: Hewlett Packard Labs
Hewlett Packard Labs was founded in 1966 with the goal of developing technology that makes a difference. “The real reason for our existence,” David Packard is quoted as saying, “is that we provide something which is unique.” That approach continues to resonate and underscore Labs’ and HPE’s mission.
To commemorate this milestone anniversary, we asked three members of the current Labs team to highlight achievements, give us a behind-the-scenes look at current projects, and also to introduce themselves and share what inspires them.
Ray Beausoleil, Senior Fellow, Senior VP and Director, Large-Scale Integrated Photonics Lab, Hewlett Packard Labs
Currently lives in West Seattle, WA, United States
Raised in Phoenix, AZ, United States
I started at HP Labs in 1995 as a TC62, which is what I think we called an “expert” back then. I have spent all of the years since as a physicist doing research, although I’ve taken on more and more responsibility over the years. My most important current role is leading the people in my Lab (mainly by keeping them out of trouble and trying to stay out of their way).
Cullen Bash, VP and Director, Systems Architecture and Management Lab, Hewlett Packard Labs
Currently lives in Los Gatos, CA, United States
Grew up in San Diego, CA, United States
I started with HP directly out of graduate school in Cupertino CA. My first job was in a product development organization where I was a hardware engineer working on our flagship computer server product line.
Part of my job was to develop cooling solutions for our systems and, as part of this responsibility I began collaborating with researchers at HP Labs in Palo Alto CA. After three years I transferred to HP Labs and began working in the Thermal Technology group with Chandrakant Patel (Chandrakant is now a Senior Fellow at HP Inc. and HP Inc.’s Chief Engineer).
Our initial research in methods to improve heat dissipation in computers expanded to research in reducing energy consumption in critical facilities like data centers where I had the privilege to work with multi-disciplinary teams that spanned software and hardware domains.
During The Machine program at Labs, I led one of the teams focused on hardware architecture. I now lead the Systems Architecture and Management Lab, another multi-disciplinary team investigating future system architecture and management innovations that can help propel HPE and our customers into the evolving data-driven world.
Diman Zad Tootaghaj, Research Scientist, Networking & Distributed Systems Lab, Hewlett Packard Labs
Currently lives in Santa Clara, CA, United States
Grew up in Iran
I earned my PhD in Computer Science and Engineering at Pennsylvania State University after earning my B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering at Sharif University of Technology, Iran. During my PhD program, I worked at the Institute for Networking and Security Research (INSR) and Network Sciences Research Group (NSRG).
I am passionate about building and finding new network architectures, protocols and algorithms. That is why I started my PhD in the computer network group. I have been working on modeling, optimization and simulation to improve performance, reliability and management of modern networks. A considerable portion of my work during my PhD is motivated by the fact that most algorithms and optimization approaches are designed with the assumption of having complete knowledge. However, in reality, we have uncertain and incomplete information and therefore traditional optimization techniques might not work, as they should.
While earning my PhD, I became an instructor for the operating systems’ course tutoring 150 students. I quickly realized that I enjoy sharing my knowledge with others. I also did an internship at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Wash., under the supervision of Dr. Kathryn McKinley and Todd Mytkowicz where I realized, I like being in an industrial research position that allows me to feel a sense of immediate impact on people’s lives and also have my ideas be adapted in practice.
For these reasons, after my PhD studies, I started a postdoc position at Hewlett Packard Labs under the supervision of Puneet Sharma. My postdoc position was a great opportunity for me to collaborate with awesome researchers in the field of computer network and systems. Then I started a research scientist position at Hewlett Packard Labs.
At Hewlett Packard Labs, I’ve been working on SDWAN network reconfigurations, serverless computing to automatically scale up/down the resources, heterogeneous resource management in cloud computing, and SmartNICs. Being a researcher at Hewlett Packard Labs has given me a unique opportunity to work on real practical problems, implement a system and work to tackle industry problems.
"When brilliant folks of diverse backgrounds and expertise are put together in a single time and place, unexpected things happen."
What is a key highlight from Labs' history that stands out to you?
Ray Beausoleil: The start of a new photonics project at Labs
After HP spun out Agilent, several of us were able to convince the HP CTO, the director of HP Labs, and two members of the HP board of directors to start a new photonics project at Labs—with actual funding.
Cullen Bash: Talented, brilliant people
One of Labs’ greatest long-term attributes has been its ability to attract people from across the technology spectrum. When brilliant folks of diverse backgrounds and expertise are put together in a single time and place, unexpected things happen. Labs has benefited from this throughout its history.
Inkjet printing was born from this diversity, as were autonomous data centers, Cool Town (early IoT research), the Utility Data Center (early cloud computing work) and The Machine program. The latter brought together a team that spanned materials science through computer science and made contributions to the company that continue through today.
Diman Zad Tootaghaj: Becoming an edge-to-cloud Platform-as-a-Service company
One of the key highlights from Labs’ history is being an “edge-to-cloud Platform-as-a-Service company” and the research challenges in this area that is used to decentralize processing power to the edge of your networks.
What is one of the most exciting projects Labs is working on now?
Ray Beausoleil: Next-generation AI workloads
Although it isn’t a formal project just yet, there’s a pan-Labs effort to pull together research in hardware, system architectures, and software done over the last decade to enable heterogeneous HPC for next-generation AI workloads. I believe that it will have a dramatic impact on HPE’s product portfolio.
Cullen Bash: AI technology
Artificial Intelligence is driving technology innovation from hardware to software to human behavior. Users of AI technology tend to focus on the outcomes it can provide and focus less on whether the outcome can be trusted.
As AI becomes more mature and ubiquitous, this focus will change. At Labs, there is a suite of programs formed around developing AI technology that can be trusted, where outcomes can be explained. These projects range from hardware accelerators to software algorithms and will drive future systems architecture into the next 10 years.
Diman Zad Tootaghaj: Delivering AI/ML inference workloads
One of the most exciting projects that I’ve been involved in was aimed at simplifying the experience of deploying and delivering AI/ML inference workloads for customers which can significantly improve workload performance of logical GPU.
In one sentence - What can we expect from Labs - and technology - in the next 55 years?
I can guess, but I don’t know. Technologists at Labs are brilliant and inspiring people, and they are always surprising me with startling ideas and results!
55 years ago, when Labs was formed, no one could have predicted the technological innovations that would be enabled by the outcomes of Labs’ research, including inkjet printing, PA-RISC micro-processors, or the rise of the Internet to name a few. Expect the same in the next 55 years, in short, expect the unexpected.
Diman Zad Tootaghaj:
In Labs, we aspire to transform the world through deep research in areas of systems architectures, AI, computer networks, etc.
What inspires you? How do you relax? What's your advice for getting the most out of life?
Ray Beausoleil: “I’m merely someone trying to leave something behind”
My wife says that “a little of me goes a long way,” but I’m really very boring. I find the struggle to stay at (or at least near) the forefront of R&D in the field of information technology to be highly motivating. In my limited spare time, I lift weights and read. I have no idea how to get the most out of life—if I did, I’d be a rich author of useless self-help books. But I’m merely someone trying to leave something behind.
Cullen Bash: “Stay relentlessly curious”
I gain inspiration from my family and my children, and from learning new things. I have one daughter and two sons that range in age from middle school to college who constantly surprise me and expose me to new ideas, largely outside of the technology sphere from where I work. Watching them grow into fully formed people gives me hope for our future (and sometimes a little fear as well).
As for getting the most out of life, pay attention to what really matters to you. Be mindful that it may change over time and allow yourself to adapt accordingly. And, of course, stay relentlessly curious.
Diman Zad Tootaghaj: “Learn something new every day and do what you’re afraid to do.”
My husband and I have a 21-month-old daughter who takes most of our time outside of work. In addition to raising our daughter, we usually go on hikes. The experience of hiking is unique to me, it is a great way to practice problem solving skills. It is like working on a challenging mathematical problem, you don’t know how long is left to reach the top but suddenly when you reach your destination you have a better vision and see everything more clearly. I love nature, swimming, traveling, reading, and music. But mostly, we love being with friends and family and that’s what we miss the most during the pandemic.
My advice for getting most out of life is to learn something new every day and do what you’re afraid to do.
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