Dan Ports’s research focuses primarily on building distributed systems for modern data-center-scale applications. He uses a variety of techniques to build practical systems that are faster, more reliable, easier to program, and more secure. To do so, Dan takes a broad view of the systems field, having worked in areas ranging from operating systems and distributed systems to networking, databases, architecture and security, and often finds interesting opportunities that lie at the intersections of these subareas.
His major ongoing projects aim to dramatically lower the cost of keeping data consistent in distributed systems, one of the principal challenges faced by developers of distributed applications. Dan is developing a new class of systems by co-designing distributed algorithms with the data center network fabric. He is also investigating ways to optimize common combinations of distributed protocols by considering the entire application stack as a whole. Both approaches have already demonstrated promising performance improvements.
Dan’s work has been recognized by the distributed systems and operating systems communities. He earned a Best Paper Award at NSDI 2015 for demonstrating the benefits of co-designing a distributed system with its underlying network using a new network-level primitive called Mostly-Ordered Multicast and the Speculative Paxos replication protocol, and the Jay Lepreau Best Paper Award at OSDI 2014 for Arrakis, a new operating system that removes barriers between increasingly sophisticated applications and the hardware on which they run.