NSF/VMware Partnership on The Next Generation of Sustainable Digital Infrastructure  (NGSDI)

Name Email Phone Room
Erik  Brunvand ebrunvan@nsf.gov (703)-292-2767   
Darleen  Fisher dlfisher@nsf.gov (703)-292-4547   
Matt  Mutka mmutka@nsf.gov (703)-292-7344   
Ann  Von Lehman avonlehm@nsf.gov (703)-292-4756   
Victor  Firoiu vfiroiu@vmware.com (650)-427-4542   
J. Christopher  Ramming chrisramming@vmware.com (650)-427-5000   
David  Ott dott@vmware.com (650)-427-5816   
Sujata  Banerjee sujatab@vmware.com (650)-427-1066   


Solicitation  20-594

Important Information for Proposers

A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 20-1), is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after June 1, 2020. Please be advised that, depending on the specified due date, the guidelines contained in NSF 20-1 may apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity.


Full Proposal Deadline Date

    November 4, 2020


The goal of this joint solicitation between NSF and VMware is to foster novel, transformative research in fundamental and systematic approaches that bring dramatic increases in the environmental sustainability of the Digital Infrastructure leading to practical methodologies and tools. The Digital Infrastructure is broadly defined as the totality of software, hardware, and the methods for managing them for the purpose of efficient computation. This research includes, but is not limited to, computer software and systems; management of distributed software, the Digital Infrastructure, and data center power sourcing; and resource allocation and scheduling. Critical to initiating such research is to set its objectives through the definition of novel metrics and benchmarks that capture the sustainability challenges of all components in the entire computation chain.

The program also aims to support a research community committed to advancing research and education at the confluence of management technologies for software, hardware and power for Sustainable Digital Infrastructure, and to transition research findings into practice. A new generation of innovation would build on many recent advances such as passive and active measurements, statistical analysis and inference, learning for automated control and complex optimization, workload isolation and management, agile development, convergence of development and production environments, and architecture-optimized language translation.

In recent years, along with the rapid expansion of data centers and cloud computing, there has been an increased interest in making this expansion environmentally sustainable. According to a recent report, compute workload has grown six-fold between 2010 and 2018 [https://datacenters.lbl.gov/sites/default/files/Masanet_et_al_Science_2020.full_.pdf] with tremendous consumer and societal benefits. While some cloud-based applications increased overall sustainability (such as reduced emissions from cloud-enabled telecommuting, including VMware’s Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, VDI [https://www.vmware.com/topics/glossary/content/virtual-desktop-infrastructure-vdi]), there has been a high interest and effort in increasing the sustainability of data center operations.  The LBNL US Data Center Energy Report [https://eta.lbl.gov/publications/united-states-data-center-energy] finds that the annual growth of data center power consumption decreased from 90% in 2000-2005 to 4% in 2010-2014 and is forecasted to remain at 4% for 2015-2020. The report mainly attributes this reduction in growth rate to industry adoption of server virtualization and hardware improvements. For example, VMware’s advances in virtualization and resource management technologies resulted in customer server consolidation, reducing power consumption by 120 million MWh and saving 67 million Metric Tons of CO2 in 2015 alone [https://www.vmware.com/content/dam/digitalmarketing/vmware/en/pdf/sustainability/vmware-greenit-virtualization-delivers-energy-carbon-emissions.pdf].

The next generation of innovation in sustainability of Digital Infrastructure will consider the full range of research areas, including 1) metrics, benchmarks and measurement methods to capture the wide variety of applications; 2) infrastructure architectures and approaches to incorporate sustainability concerns across the full Development and Operations (DevOps) lifecycle; and 3) methods to manage the aggregate Digital Infrastructure environment and workloads.

NSF and VMware will support multiple projects with funding of up to $3,000,000 each over three years, and it is intended that NSF and VMware will co-fund each project.

This NSF/VMware partnership combines CISE’s experience in developing and managing successful large, diverse research portfolios with VMware’s significant expertise in management of virtualized workloads, virtualization technology, distributed systems, cloud computing, and other aspects of large-scale software infrastructure and infrastructure management.



What Has Been Funded (Recent Awards Made Through This Program, with Abstracts)

Map of Recent Awards Made Through This Program