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NSERC/Ericsson Industrial Research Chair for Khendek

As society becomes increasingly dependent upon technology, software systems are necessarily becoming larger and more ubiquitous, composed of different parts developed by different software vendors, configured and deployed on clusters of hundreds hardware nodes or even on cloud computing platforms. Throughout their ever-lengthening lifecycles, these systems need to be managed to continue to meet requirements such as performance, availability and reliability.

Ferhat Khendek, professor in Concordia University's Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, has recently been awarded significant funding to address these concerns. Through the Industrial Research Chairs program of Canada's Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Khendek will receive five years of funding totaling $1.5 million.

In celebration of this honour, an official recognition event was held on January 18 at Concordia University's downtown campus. Present were NSERC's Janet Walden (Vice President, Research Partnerships Programs), Ericsson Canada Inc.'s Pierre Boucher (Director of Research) and Maria Toeroe, as well as representatives from Concordia University.

The NSERC / Ericsson Industrial Research Chair in Model-Based Software Management will allow Concordia to build on its existing strengths in software research while uniting the university Ericsson, the industrial leader that has signed on to co-fund the project. Representatives from Ericsson will collaborate closely with Khendek to provide relevant training opportunities for graduate students, leading to the dissemination of research results in Canada and abroad.     

"With the increased complexity of these software systems," says Khendek, "comes issues such as how to select components, how to satisfy user requirements, how to choose the right hardware platform, how to avoid wasting resources, how to upgrade systems with limited downtime - the list keeps growing!" Taking an academic approach to answering these questions is the driving force behind the Industrial Research Chair.

For NSERC's president Suzanne Fortier, Khendek's work carries national significance. "Canadian researchers have a strong track record of breakthroughs in information and communications technology," she says. "Dr. Khendek has made many contributions in this area himself and, through this Industrial Research Chair and his partnership with Ericsson, he will generate tremendous benefits for Canada."

Along with a team of graduate students and researchers, and with invaluable contributions from Ericsson, Khendek plans to develop techniques and approaches for the integration, configuration, deployment, upgrade, validation, and monitoring of large and complex software systems. These techniques and approaches will not only take into account performance and availability of provided services, but also deployment platforms such as clusters and cloud computing properties. Ultimately, the approaches, architectures, and techniques researched and developed through this research program will lead to better quality software systems for the provisioning of services meeting functional and non-functional user requirements. This will also shorten the time to market of application/telecom platform solutions and will strengthen the position of the Canadian computing and telecommunications industries in the global and competitive market.

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