Pranjal Mittal
Pranjal Mittal, computer science graduate student at Oregon State.

Pranjal Mittal was initially thwarted from studying computer science in college, but never lost his excitement for it. Now a master’s student in computer science at Oregon State University, he was honored this year with an Intel fellowship.

Mittal wanted to pursue computer science as early as high school, but the determining factor for his major was an entrance examination for the Indian Institute of Technology. After studying for two years for the exam that one million people take, he was selected to be an electronics engineering major instead of his first choice.

But he did not give up his passion for computer science. He was able to take courses in computer science while in college and sought out other opportunities to learn on his own. He started by building websites for college events and then moved on to writing more complex web applications.

It was what he did next that changed the course of his career.

During his junior year, he was confident enough in his programming skills to apply for the Google Summer of Code, a global program that offers stipends to students to work remotely on open source projects with a mentoring organization. The project he applied for was with Oregon State’s Open Source Lab (OSL) to work on tool for the Ganeti Web Manager. He enjoyed it so much that he returned to the OSL through Google Summer of Code the following year. The experience of working with the people at OSL encouraged him to apply to graduate school at Oregon State.

“The Open Source Lab is very famous in the open source community and I thought if an Oregon State lab and its members were so amazing then the university should be amazing too,” Mittal said.

At the time of his decision to move to the U.S. for graduate school, Mittal had other opportunities. He already had a job with Citrix in India, and he and three other teammates were finalists in the Google Cloud Developer Challenge, which led to an opportunity to develop the application into a commercial product.

He decided to pursue a master’s because it was an opportunity to advance his knowledge in computer science and it also offered him a chance to be a teaching assistant. It was his first teaching experience and he has really enjoyed helping new students learn about web and cloud computing.

As part of his fellowship with Intel, Mittal will mentor three senior capstone project teams (nine students) who are working on a cloud computing project; an extension of the work he did as an Intel intern. “It feels great to be a link between Oregon State and Intel for further industrial collaboration on research and development,” he said.

Mittal is also conducting research work in cloud computing related to container-based clouds and plans to write his master’s thesis in this area.

“Most of the technology you see today is somehow connected to the cloud, it is the backbone of so many fields, making it an area in which even small research advances can have a huge impact,” he said.

Story by Rachel Robertson

Oregon State press release posted 7/24/2015

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Open Source Lab in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University has significantly upgraded the FTP service used by the open source software community and increased its download speeds by 900 percent.

This service can now handle millions of additional download requests per day, and serves as a critical link in the distribution of open-source software around the world.

With recent improvements, the lab increased the combined download speed to 30 gigabytes per second, and storage capacity to 9 terabytes, a 50 percent increase over what was previously available. Other performance improvements include a 100 percent increase in peak hard disk throughput, and a 60 percent increased capacity in web traffic.

“We’re on the leading edge,” said Lance Albertson, director of the laboratory. “We’re the only group providing this service using machines with the POWER8 architecture. This upgrade has already been noticed by many of our hosted projects due to the improved speed.”

IBM POWER8 server
IBM donated three servers with POWER8 architecture for the OSL upgrade. Pictured here is the one located in New York.

This cluster, which has locations in New York City, Chicago and Corvallis, Ore., hosts 85 open source software projects, whose users rely on this service to download applications and patches.

The content is mirrored to three servers so that it provides the fastest and most reliable service possible. Users include system administrators from around the world keeping Linux servers up to date, and end-users downloading the latest version of applications such as LibreOffice or Inkscape. In the coming months, the lab plans to open up the service to more projects.

IBM donated the three new servers that made the recent upgrade possible. Additional industry partners for the project included TDS Telecom and Google.

“The OSL has provided hosting services that have been key to our Apache, Power and Open software development programs for many years,” said Keith Brown, director of IBM Systems Technical Strategy & Product Security. “We’re continuing to build on that partnership.”

In addition to providing open-source services to the community, the OSL provides Oregon State students with hands-on training in open source development.

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For more technical details about the upgrade, see Lance Albertson’s blog Leveling Up With POWER8.