Initially Neglected, Work Now Seen as “Most Influential”

In February, the ACM Symposium on High-Performance Parallel and Distributed Computing (HPDC) celebrated its twentieth year by identifying twenty of the “most influential” papers published in the history of its proceedings. Among these was a paper presented in 1997 whose lead author is CSE Professor and Google Fellow Amin Vahdat, entitled “WebOS: Operating System Services for Wide Area Applications.” In the paper, Professor Vahdat and his colleagues at UC, Berkeley and UT, Austin described a service, WebOS, that provided “basic operating systems services needed to build applications that are geographically distributed, highly available, incrementally scalable, and dynamically reconfiguring.” The ideas outlined in this paper were a radical proposal for solving the then growing problem of how to provide ease of use for wide area resources. Though rejected from a number of conferences and then widely overlooked at first, the basic framework described in this paper is now commonly employed by such on-demand cloud service providers as EC2 Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Windows Azure.