Environmental, Social & Governance3 min read

VMware and the NSF Announce Academic Awards

VMware Staff

Research results will be dedicated to the public to help accelerate a low carbon future.

PALO ALTO, Calif. – VMware, in collaboration with the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), announced today the funding awards for the new research program “NSF-VMware Partnership on Next Generation of Sustainable Digital Infrastructure (NG-SDI).”

The goal of the initiative and joint solicitation with NSF is to foster novel, transformative research in fundamental and systematic approaches that bring dramatic increases in the environmental sustainability of digital infrastructure and leading to practical methodologies and tools. This collaboration is in line with VMware’s 2030 Agenda, which outlines the company’s 10-year commitment to building a more sustainable and resilient world.

The joint NSF-VMware awards, which total US $6,000,000 in research funding grants over three years, are made for two multi-university research teams:

  • “A Sustainable and Reliable Carbon-Centric Cloud-Edge Software Infrastructure”—a team led by Professor Prashant Shenoy together with Professors Ramesh Sitaraman, David Irwin and Mohammad Hajiesmaili at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Tian Guo at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Adam Wierman at California Institute of Technology; and
  • “Foundations of Clean and Balanced Data Centers”—a team led by Professor Tom Anderson at the University of Washington, together with Professors Adam Belay at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mosharaf Chowdhury at the University of Michigan, Asaf Cidon at Columbia University and Irene Zhang at the University of Washington.

“We are pleased to announce the awards recognizing the innovative ideas pioneered by these university teams,” said Greg Lavender, chief technology officer, VMware. “We believe these efforts will help accelerate a low carbon future by minimizing the IT and data center infrastructure required to support the world’s increasing digital workloads. It is our responsibility as a leading technology provider to help drive these types of transformative behavior.”

Complementary to the joint awards, VMware is granting US $500,000 to a third project, “Carbon-Emissions Information Service for Sustainable Cloud Operation.” This project is led by Professor Andrew Chien at the University of Chicago, together with Professors Line Roald at the University of Wisconsin and Rich Wolski at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

“Data centers and other large-scale digital services are massive users of electricity, and therefore incur large carbon footprints, so sustainability of computing infrastructure is an important challenge,” said Gurdip Singh, division director of computer and network systems in NSF’s Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering. “At the same time, data centers offer large payoffs in terms of economic and societal benefit. Through research catalyzed by this program, we hope to better understand how the carbon footprint of our digital infrastructure can be reduced.”

Data center and digital infrastructure capacities and workloads have been growing exponentially, around 25% annually in the last decade, with no sign of slowing. The total power draw is estimated at 1-1.5% of world electricity production.[1]

“Sustainability is core to VMware’s values. While there have been significant advances in efficiency, mainly through low-power hardware and software virtualization on which VMware has made a big impact directly and indirectly, many new opportunities have recently opened with the advent of emerging technologies,” said Victor Firoiu, co-director, VMware Academic Programs.

The three programs will work in synergy to uncover new science and technologies for transforming the practice and operation of cloud computing, whether public, private or hybrid clouds, resulting in dramatic increases in their environmental sustainability.

For more information about this initiative, please contact:

Media Contact
Kristin Atkins
Director, ESG & Reputation Communications, VMware

Academic Research Lead Contact
Victor Firoiu
Co-Director of VMware Academic Programs

About VMware

VMware software powers the world’s complex digital infrastructure. The company’s cloud, app modernization, networking, security, and digital workspace offerings help customers deliver any application on any cloud across any device. Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, VMware is committed to being a force for good, from its breakthrough technology innovations to its global impact. For more information, please visit https://www.vmware.com/company.html.

[1] Masanet et al, “Recalibrating global data center energy-use estimates”, Science Magazine, Feb 2020, https://datacenters.lbl.gov/sites/default/files/Masanet_et_al_Science_2020.full_.pdf