Please tell us about yourself
Rekha Pitchumani, a UCSC graduate student in computer science (University of California, Santa Cruz), has been working with Seagate on new data storage technology. (Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)
Rekha Pitchumani, a computer science graduate student in the Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz, has been developing new data storage technologies in collaboration with Seagate, a leader in the storage industry. Pitchumani’s work on storage technologies at UCSC’s Storage Systems Research Center (SSRC) came to the attention of Seagate representatives at the SSRC’s annual research retreat in 2013. She will be presenting her latest results at this year’s retreat, which takes place on Wednesday, May 21, at UCSC.
In the rapidly evolving field of data storage, the SSRC has been a leading academic research center for more than a decade. Strong relationships with top companies in the storage industry help ensure that SSRC researchers and graduate students are focusing their efforts on important problems and preparing for the challenges of the future, said Ethan Miller, professor of computer science and Pitchumani’s adviser.
“When companies need to solve a problem to continue developing a product, we hope our research has created a foundation for an application,” Miller said.
What do you do?
Pitchumani has been working on shingled disk technology. Shingled disks were developed to enable computer disk drives to store more information by overlapping the data tracks like roof shingles. To write data on a shingled disk, however, a computer needs new software, and updating large server farms with shingled disks requires a labor-intensive software upgrade for each server. Pitchumani wanted to simplify that process by developing data management software that could be placed directly on a shingled disk. “Intelligent” disks could then manage themselves, eliminating the software installation step in upgrading server storage.
Tell us about your internship
After hearing Pitchumani’s presentation last year, Seagate offered her an internship for the summer, during which she developed software for a shingled disk storage system. Pitchumani is working directly with several of Seagate’s senior technologists to incorporate her work into a new storage platform the company launched in mid-2013.
“Rekha has the perfect combination of a great organization in SSRC and a Ph.D. thesis that was a match for what the industry is struggling with,” said James Hughes, principal technologist at Seagate. “Her ability to work all the way from abstract idea to the actual code makes what she does immediately relevant.”
Seagate was ready to hire her after the internship, but Pitchumani said they understood that finishing her Ph.D. research is her first priority. Because of the university’s close proximity to Seagate’s offices in Cupertino, Pitchumani has continued a part-time internship with the company while working on her academic research.
She said she’s happy her research is already having an impact in society. “Usually, Ph.D. students are not able to get their research into real products during graduate school,” Pitchumani said.
Tell us about your educational background
Rekha Pitchumani completed her Ph.D. at UCSC (Computer Science) in 2015, working with Prof. Ethan Miller. She started grad school at UCSC in Sept 2010 and has been with SSRC since Jan 2011. She received her Bachelor of Engineering degree from PSG College of Technology, India in 2006, and then worked as a system software engineer for 2 years at Hewlett-Packard, India. Her dissertation was on data/metadata management solution tailored to Shingled Magnetic Recording disks. After graduating, she joined Samsung.