Vasanth  (Vas) Bala photo

Research Areas

Contact Information

Vasanth (Vas) Bala
ACM Distinguished Scientist

Research Staff Member
Thomas J. Watson Research Center, NY USA

vbalaatus.ibm.com      +1dash914dash784dash7939


I am a scientist at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in New York.

My current focus is on mining the configurations of (virtual) machines in a data center / Cloud environment, in order to learn configuration patterns that have a high correlation with performance problems and system outages. What makes this problem challenging is the large number of configuration related features involved, a highly dynamic environment where change management systems are continuously making changes, and how to distinguish benign changes from problematic ones. I enjoy programming (especially in Python), tinkering with distributed systems, and exploring novel algorithms to solve problems.

I also lead the Scalable Datacenter Analytics team at the Watson Labs, which, in collaboration with groups at Carnegie Mellon, University of Toronto, and UC San Diego is exploring ways to mine real-time operational data gathered by instrumenting systems and their deployment/maintenance processes. Our innovations have been integrated into several successful IBM products. We are also developing a knowledge base of good and bad software configuration fingerprints that can be used as a reference corpus for discovering the presence of these fingerprints in any data center environment.

In the past I have worked on computer architecture, compiler optimization, parallel computing, virtualization, dynamic binary translation, and digital rights management. My work on multi-processor message passing algorithms has influenced the Message Passing Interface (MPI) standard used in modern supercomputers. My work on pipeline instruction scheduling is used in the GNU C compiler. My work on the Dynamo system made pioneering contributions to the field of just-in-time compilation and binary optimization, and has been widely referenced and extended by others. My work on using virtualization to enable document protection and security was successfully commercialized by Liquid Machines Inc, a company I co-founded (and was later acquired by Check Point Inc).

I was recognized as an ACM Distinguished Scientist for seminal contributions to the field of dynamic binary translation. I am also a member of the IBM Academy of Technology and an IBM Master Inventor, and I was recently nominated to the IBM Data Science team which assists customers in solving analytics problems related to very large data sets.

I received my MS and Ph.D. in Computer Science from Rice University. In addition to IBM Research, I have worked as a research fellow at Caltech, a compiler engineer at Kendall Square Research, and a senior scientist at Hewlett-Packard Labs. Prior to joining IBM Research, I co-founded Liquid Machines Inc., a startup company in Waltham, MA that was later acquired by Check Point Software Technologies.

I love tennis, classical guitar, sketching, and traveling around the world.