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November 8, 2004

Major gift from storage industry leader Kumar Malavalli establishes endowed chair in storage systems

By Tim Stephens

Kumar Malavalli, cofounder of Brocade Communications and cofounder and CEO of InMage Systems, has made a gift of $1 million to UCSC to establish the Kumar Malavalli Endowed Chair in Storage Systems Research at UCSC's Baskin School of Engineering.

Kumar Malavalli

This major gift provides valuable support for the engineering school's Storage Systems Research Center.

"I am most excited that Mr. Malavalli, a business leader in the field of storage networks, has chosen to support the Storage Systems Research Center with this endowment," said dean of engineering Steve Kang. "The future success of the Baskin School of Engineering hinges on our close interactions with industry in Silicon Valley and with entrepreneurial leaders like Mr. Malavalli."

Kang announced the gift last week at the dedication ceremonies for the new Engineering 2 Building.

Darrell Long, professor of computer science and director of the Storage Systems Research Center (SSRC), said that Malavalli's name adds an imprimatur to the SSRC that will help to attract further investments from companies and individuals.

"Kumar Malavalli is an immensely influential figure in the area of storage systems and has made great contributions to storage area networks. I am very pleased that someone who knows as much as he does about this field and about what's going on in the industry has decided to make such a generous contribution to our research," said Long, who is associate dean for research and graduate studies in the engineering school.

"This endowment will act as an anchor for the SSRC, giving us stability and allowing us to pursue new research ventures that are not funded under our current grants," Long said. According to Malavalli, data storage technology has evolved into a mainstream technology that is now affecting all walks of life in modern society.

"All of the information that is generated in different areas of your life and in different businesses, it all has to be stored, moved around, replicated, and backed up. The technologies are growing by leaps and bounds, but we still don't have an optimal solution. More research is needed to fill the holes that exist today to provide the best solution for society," Malavalli said.

Malavalli was for many years the chief technical officer of Brocade Communications, the leading provider of storage area networking infrastructure, which he cofounded in 1995. He is also one of the principal architects of Fibre Channel technology, a high-speed data transfer technology used in storage networks. He served as chair of the ANSI T11 Technical Committee, which established universal standards for Fibre Channel. He has also served on the Boards of Directors of the Storage Networking Industry Association and the Fibre Channel Industry Association.

The SSRC, started five years ago, is regarded as an international leader in the field of storage systems research. In addition to Long, the center's faculty include Scott Brandt and Ethan Miller, both associate professors of computer science, as well as other faculty from the Departments of Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Electrical Engineering.

"We've been working together for years, and I feel we are one of the best groups in the world in this area of research," Long said.

The mission of the SSRC is to improve the performance and profitability of the data storage industry through a strong focus on the software and systems aspects of storage. Research in the SSRC focuses on caching, storage systems hierarchies, peta-scale storage systems, distributed storage systems, and security and performance.

The center works with a variety of industry partners that provide funding, equipment, and technical feedback for the center's research programs. Malavalli said he would like to help establish a more formal consortium of companies to work with the SSRC on cooperative research projects.

Malavalli earned degrees in electrical engineering and physics at the National Institute of Engineering in Mysore, India. He worked for ITT Communications, Amdahl, Canstar, and HP before arriving in Silicon Valley from Canada in 1995. He is currently CEO of InMage Systems.

In February 2003, Malavalli was inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Council Hall of Fame for his contributions to technology. He also received the Gene Milligan Award for Effective Committee Management from the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) for chairing an INCITS committee that developed 17 standards in the area of Storage Area Networks.

Malavalli currently invests in and mentors numerous storage networking startups in both Silicon Valley and in India. He also contributes substantially toward his own global vision, which encompasses telemedicine and education. He is a member of the Board of Directors of The Indus Entrepreneurs Silicon Valley Chapter, and is a trustee of the American India Foundation.

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