Cloud & Mobile Research Group


The field of computing is undergoing a fundamental transformation. Cloud Computing is enabling new ways of storing, handling and processing ever larger quantities of data, as well as new intelligent algorithms, applications and experiences. Recent breakthroughs in areas like machine learning, big data analytics, business intelligence, cognitive services, computational finance or artificial intelligence would be entirely unthinkable without groundbreaking progress and massive investments in Cloud Computing. This includes the design of reliable distributed systems and networks at massive scale, efficient and highly-scalable systems for processing enormous amounts of data, as well as novel storage and database concepts. At the same time, Mobile Computing is forever changing our lifestyle via new forms of social interactions, new business models, and the Internet-of-Things (IoT). Driven by incredible advances in devices, mobile systems technology and connectivity, ever more devices and sensors are being connected, and every more data is available anytime and everwhere.

In the Cloud & Mobile Research Group of Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA), we engage in state-of-the-art computer science research spanning the areas of Systems, Networking, Database, Distributed Computing, as well as Cloud and Mobile Computing. We also work on cutting edge financial technologies such as Blockchain. Our work has been published in top conferences including SOSP, SIGCOMM, NSDI, SOCC, SIGMOD, VLDB, MobiCom, MobiSys, ISCA, ASPLOS, PODC, and many more. Also for many years, we have been closely collaborating with various product teams in Microsoft. Specifically, we have designed, built, analyzed, and optimized some of the key infrastructure components and algorithms that drive the Microsoft Cloud.


  • Oct 2016: Congratulations to Yuanchao Shu for winning the prestigious ACM China Doctoral Dissertation Award of 2016. The result was announced at the ACM China Annual Meeting; and the award ceremony will be held during the ACM China Turing 50th Celebration Conference in May 2017.
  • Oct 2016: Woohoo! Our new Cloud & Mobile Research Group got officially launched! This new research group consists of researchers and engineers of three former research groups at MSR Asia: The Wireless & Networking Research Group, the System Algorithms (SysAlgo) Research Group, and the Mobile and Sensing Systems (MASS) Research Group. The prospect of having researchers from all these groups closely work together in one group is exciting, because it allows us to collaborate together on even bigger and grander ideas! Let’s get going…  


Cloud Computing & Networking

  • Full-Utilization Data-Center: Hyperscale public cloud providers such as Microsoft invest billions of dollars into their cloud infrastructure. It is therefore critically important that the provisioned resources are as efficiently used as possible. For the past several years, we have been working closely with core Azure infrastructure teams to design state-of-the-art resource utilization technologies, including allocation and scheduling algorithms that maximize the utilization in our data centers. Numerous of our solutions are now in worldwide production across our Azure datacenters.
  • Intelligent Blockchain: Blockchain is an emerging technology with the potential to change the way businesses, industries, and public organizations conduct and verify transactions, thereby streamlining business processes, saving money, and reducing the potential for fraud. In our Blockchain project, we are currently working to design new innovative Blockchain (particularly Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS)) applications, to make blockchain more efficient, and to gain fundamental novel insight into Blockchain networks. 
  • Data Center Networking: Data center networks hold a pivotal role in cloud computing, as it interconnects all of the data center resources. DCNs need to be scalable and efficient, connecting hundreds of thousands of servers to handle the growing data requirements of big data applications, and low-latency demands on online services. We work closely with Azure Networking on state-of-the-art (software-defined) networking technologies that power Microsoft’s data center networks.
  • FPGA-Accelerated Networking: Building network infrastructure for mega scale data centers and ever increasing data transfer rates requires fundamental shifts in networking technology. In this project, we are working on using FPGA-based smart network cards (NIC) and other hardware-based acceleration techniques to achieve unprecedented accelerated network performance.
  • Graph Computation & NoSQL: We are working on a highly efficient middle layer that can enhance any existing data storage system (SQL Server, Oracle, Azure DocumentDB) with graph processing capabilities. The underlying principle behind our work is a novel “NoSQL on SQL” approach – we believe (and prove!) that contrary to popular believe, a vast majority of NoSQL workloads can be highly efficiently managed and processed on top of existing data stores.  
  • Next-Generation, Storage-Class Memory Systems: Emerging non-volatile memory (NVM) hardware is changing the landscape of data storage. Traditional dichotomy between fast volatile memory and slow persistent disks is shifting towards a unified memory-level persistent storage layer, which largely unlocks the performance potential of many applications. To that end, we revisit and innovate on many aspects of the traditional architecture and system stack, spanning processor/memory controller design, operating system/software framework and programming techniques.

Mobile Computing

  • FollowUs — Infrastructure-Free Plug-and-Play Indoor Navigation: There has been a proliferation of research work on indoor positioning in previous years. In this project, we take a different and novel approach. Focusing on the more constrained problem of navigation, and using the unique properties of the geo-magnetic field, we are building an easy-to-deploy completely infrastructure-free, plug-and-play indoor navigation system.  
  • Public Bicycle Sharing: Public bike-sharing systems have emerged as a new innovative mobility strategy, and are now common-place in many big cities worldwide. In our project, we are collaborating closely with the world’s largest public bike-sharing operator, building spatio-temporal mobility models, traffic predictions and state-of-the-art bike rebalancing algorithms to optimize the system’s efficiency and customer-satisfaction. 
  • 60GHz Wireless Networks: MSR Asia has a long tradition of doing world-class research work in wireless networking. Building on our work on software-defined radio (SORA), we are now working on new ideas on wireless 60 GHz networks.