ACM SIGCOMM 2019, Beijing, China

ACM SIGCOMM 2019 Workshop on Optical Systems Design (OptSys)

keynote speakers

Keren Bergman

Keren Bergman is the Charles Batchelor Professor of Electrical Engineering at Columbia University where she also serves as the Faculty Director of the Columbia Nano Initiative. Bergman (Ph.D. M.I.T. 1994) leads the Lightwave Research Laboratory encompassing multiple cross-disciplinary programs at the intersection of computing and photonics. She serves on the Leadership Council of the American Institute of Manufacturing (AIM) Photonics leading projects that support the institute’s silicon photonics manufacturing capabilities and Datacom applications. Bergman is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA) and IEEE.

George Porter

George Porter is an Associate Professor at UC San Diego and the Co-Director of UCSD's Center for Networked Systems, working on topics related to data-intensive computing and data center networking. He has received a Google Focused Research Award, a NetApp Faculty Fellowship, a Cisco Research award, the NSF CAREER award, and the USENIX NSDI 2017 “Test of Time” award. He received his B.S. from the University of Texas at Austin and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Eitan Zahavi

Dr. Eitan Zahavi, just joined Amazon AWS Networking as a Senior Principal Engineer.Previously, Eitan led the Mellanox network architecture group focusing on cluster level performance.He also acted as a co-chair of the IBTA technical working group.He received his Ph.D. about “Forwarding in Compute Clusters” in 2015 and Bs.C. in 1987 both at the EE department of the Technion, Israel institute of technology.

T. S. Eugene Ng

T. S. Eugene Ng is a Professor of Computer Science and Electrical & Computer Engineering at Rice University. He was selected as an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow and received an IBM Faculty Award in 2009. He also received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2005, and is a Kavli Fellow. He holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering with distinction and magna cum laude from University of Washington, a M.S. and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University. In recent years, he has pioneered a research direction called Big data and Optical Lightpaths Driven (BOLD) networked systems, which explores new networked systems architectures and mechanisms, such as optics, to support sophisticated big data application network traffic workloads in a scalable, affordable and environmentally sustainable manner, and develops innovative big data processing systems, applications and algorithms that are made possible by the new networked systems architectures and mechanisms.

Hitesh Ballani

I am a researcher in the System and Networking group at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK. My research aims to build systems and networks for next-generation data centers. Our current focus is on developing optical technologies for the cloud. Earlier, I graduated from Cornell University where I indulged in follies like Scalable Internet Routing and Network Management.
I enjoy working on real-world problems, particularly ones that span technical domains. For example, as part of the Predictable Data Centers project (2010-15), we developed technologies for enabling predictable performance across shared cloud resources like networking and storage. Applying traditional networking ideas to the storage stack was key to a lot of our innovation, leading to the SMB Bandwidth Limiting feature in Windows Server 2012 R2, and inspiring the end-to-end Storage QoS feature in Windows Server 2016. This post discusses our journey from whiteboard discussions to a shipping product.
With our Optics for the Cloud effort (2016-), we are now delving deeper into the data center stack. Our team brings together hardware, optics, networking and application-level expertise to take a cross-stack view towards developing optical technologies that could underpin the next-generation of our cloud infrastructure.

Workshop Program

  • Monday, August 19, 2019, Shangri-La Hotel

  • 13:30pm - 13:45pm Workshop Opening - Background and Overview

    Paolo Costa (Microsoft Research)

  • 13:45pm - 15:00pm Session 1

    Session chair: Chen Avin (BGU)

  • Lessons learned from 10 years of building optical systems (30min)

    George Porter (UC San Diego)

    • Abstract: Optical switching has the potential for delivering increased bandwidth at lower cost and power compared to electronic packet switching architectures. Yet while optical switching has been successful in the wide-area, it has yet to make significant inroads in clusters and datacenter networks. In part, this is because optical switches are not drop-in replacement for packet switches, requiring that other components change to support their requirements. In this talk, I'll describe some of the fundamental challenges and opportunities in applying optical switching to cluster networks, and report on recent progress on designing and building out a high-bandwidth and low-latency circuit-switched fabric based on RotorNet(Sigcomm'17), including the design of a new optical Rotor switch device.


  • Flexibly Scalable High Performance Architectures with Embedded Photonics (30min)

    Keren Bergman (Columbia University)

    • Abstract: High-performance systems are increasingly bottlenecked by the energy and communications costs of interconnecting numerous compute and memory resources. Integrated silicon photonics offer the opportunity of embedding optical connectivity that directly delivers high off-chip communication bandwidth densities with low power consumption. The talk will cover these advances and introduce the concept of embedded photonics for addressing data-movement challenges in high-performance systems. Beyond alleviating the bandwidth/energy bottlenecks, embedded photonics can enable new disaggregated architectures that leverage the distance independence of optical transmission. The envisioned modular system interconnected by a unified photonic fabric can be flexibly composed to create custom architectures tailored for specific applications.


  • Harnessing Optics for Low Latency Data Centre Networking (15min)

    Zhixin Liu (University College London)

  • 15:00pm - 15:30pm Coffee & pastries break

  • 15:30am - 17:15pm Session 2

    Session chair: Stefan Schmid (University of Vienna)

  • Optical Datacenter Networks Experience and Future Architecture (30min)

    Eitan Zahavi (Amazon)

    • Abstract: Optical Data Center Networks (ODCN) are gaining attention as the "End of Moore's law" may prevent Electrical Packet Switching networks from meeting the exponential network bandwidth demands. The Nephele H2020 project provided a first vertical integration of ODCN. This talk provides some key learnings from Nephele and furthermore highlights some fundamental ODCN architectural challenges. This leads to some key architectural observations and promising alternatives.


  • Optical switching in data centers: Opportunities and Challenges (30min)

    Hitesh Ballani (Microsoft research)

    • Abstract: Most infrastructure technologies underlying today’s data centers were designed in the pre-cloud era. They thus represent compromises, encumbered by legacy thinking. We are exploring optical technologies for next-generation cloud infrastructure across three primary resources, networking, storage, and compute. In this talk, I will outline challenges for future data centers, the importance of cross-layer approaches to solutions, and present our work on optical networking and storage.


  • Adapting TCP for Reconfigurable Datacenter Networks (15min)

    Matthew Mukerjee, Christopher Canel, Daehyeok Kim, Srinivasan Seshan (Carnegie Mellon University)

  • COSMOS: Optical Architecture and Prototyping (15min)

    Craig Gutterman (Columbia University), Artur Minakhmetov (Telecom Paris), Michael Sherman (WINLAB, Rutgers University), Jiakai Yu (University of Arizona), Tingjun Chen (Columbia University), Shengxiang Zhu (University of Arizona), Gil Zussman (Columbia University), Ivan Seskar (WINLAB, Rutgers University), Dipankar Raychaudhuri (WINLAB), Rutgers University), Dan Kilper (University of Arizona)

  • O-Net An "Open" Optical Networking Framework (15min)

    Alex Forencich, George C. Papen (UC San Diego)

  • 17:15pm - 17:25pm Short Break

  • 17:25pm - 18:30pm Session 3

    Session chair: Manya Ghobadi (MIT)

  • Big data and Optical Lightpaths Driven Data Center Network (30min)

    T. S. Eugene Ng (Rice University)

    • Abstract: Physical layer optical communication devices such as optical circuit switches give data center network architects new tools to innovate. The abundant bandwidth capacity of optical devices seems a great match for the insatiable bandwidth demand of big data applications emerging in data centers today. However, big data applications have many important nuanced qualities and they have to be carefully understood and considered by network architects. This talk will discuss some of the recent advances from the BOLD (Big data and Optical Lightpaths Driven) Project at Rice University, which has been investigating big data applications' fundamental characteristics and developing advanced data center network architectures that leverage optical devices to meet the growing challenges presented by big data applications.


  • 18:30pm - 19:00pm Panel session (Invited Speakers) + Closing remarks

Call for Oral Presentations

Optical equipment is a fundamental component of modern systems. Today, nearly all wide-area, metro, and data center communications are carried over optical technology making optics a billion dollar industry. Optics is poised to play an even bigger role in next-generation networks. The high bandwidth and ultra-low latency requirements of modern Cloud-centric systems, such as machine learning and business analytics, are hard to meet in a cost-effective manner with traditional electrical devices.

The OptSys workshop focuses on the design and implementation of optical networked systems for the next-generation Cloud infrastructure. These systems pose a number of research challenges spanning multiple research areas, e.g., physical layer, scheduling, synchronization, congestion control, orchestration, and topology reconfiguration, which require cross-layer and cross-disciplinary solutions. The workshop aims to bring together participants across the optics, networking, systems, and distributed algorithms community to jointly tackle these challenges and foster discussions and collaboration opportunities across these communities.

Topics of Interest

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following areas:

  • Cross-layer optimization problems
  • Systems design leveraging recent advances in Optical technology
  • Optical designs leveraging recent advances in Systems and Cloud
  • Novel optical network architectures
  • Emerging optical technologies impacting the design of rack-scale, data-center, metro, and wide-area networks
  • New congestion control and network stacks for optical networks
  • Scheduling and time synchronization algorithms for microsecond/nanosecond Optical Circuit Switches
  • Programming abstractions for orchestration between the SDN/IP layer and optical devices
  • Reconfigurable optical topologies
  • Analysis and experience with operational optical networks
  • Models, algorithms, and theory for optical networks
  • Economic and cost aspects of optical networks
  • Monitoring and diagnosis of performance issues across layers
  • Free-space optical interconnects

Submission Instructions

Submissions include an extended abstract for oral presentation at the workshop. Authors are encouraged to submit an extended abstract that includes previously published work. Submitted papers must use the new ACM template (using sigconf document type) from the 2018 ACM consolidated template package (you can also use this barebone LaTeX template). The font size must be 9 points. The length of the final extended abstract with all its content except references must not exceed 1 page. The extended abstract must include author’s names and affiliations for single-blind peer reviewing by the PC. Use this link for submission: Abstracts will not be published.


Attendance of the workshop is by open registration and subject to the same registration fees and rules as all the other SIGCOMM 2019 workshops. The registrants of the workshop may freely attend any workshop on the same day.

Important Dates

  • May 7, 2019

    Abstract submission deadline

  • May 24, 2019

    Acceptance notification for presentations

  • June 20, 2019

    Camera-ready due (1-page extended abstract)

  • August 19, 2019



  • Program Chairs
  • Chen Avin

    Ben Gurion University, Israel

  • Paolo Costa

    Microsoft Research, UK

  • Ramakrishnan Durairajan

    University of Oregon, USA

  • Manya Ghobadi

    MIT, USA

  • Stefan Schmid

    University of Vienna, Austria