RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – North Carolina is losing one of its foremost technology leaders to global giant Microsoft.

Daniel Reed, the founder of the Renaissance Computing Institute, is joining the software giant to lead a new research initiative into scalable and multicore computing. His deputy and co-founder of RENCI, Alan Blatecky, will take over as interim director.

In Blatecky the Institute retains a leader with experience in supercomputing as well as a deep knowledge of North Carolina, having worked for several years at MCNC where he helped create the state-wide infrastructure known as the North Carolina Research and Education Network. Blatecky is a former executive director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center, and directed the National Science Foundation’s National Middleware Initiative for use in grid computing.

Reed, long an acknowledged leader in supercomputing and parallel computing research, was lured to North Carolina from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications in Illinois to start RENCI four years ago. He also helped create the TeraGrid for the NSF.

The Institute is a collaborative effort between UNC, Duke, North Carolina State and several other universities to push the limits of computing and networking. Among its priorities has been how to harness computing power to deal with natural disasters..

In his RENCI blog, Reed said the Microsoft opportunity represents a voyage into the future of computing

“The history of computing is one of punctuated equilibria, with each era reshaping and raising our expectations about computing’s power, scope and relevance,” he wrote. “From mainframes and minicomputers through workstations and PCs to the web, the exponential changes continue to be deep and profound. Today, the Web 2.0 revolution is in full flight, driven by large-scale (soon heterogeneous) multicore processors (called manycore), scalable cloud computing, social networking and software as a service. None of us knows where this future will lead, but the excitement is palpable.

“On December 3, I will embark on the next installment of my own future, which will place me in the center of the ever-evolving computing revolution. On that day, I will be joining Microsoft to head a new research initiative in scalable and multicore computing. I am enormously excited, as these are among the most interesting technical problems in computing, and they are my long-time professional interests. I will be working with Microsoft researchers and product developers, as well as industry partners and academics. It doesn’t get any cooler than this.”

Microsoft’s gain is North Carolina’s loss, although RENCI said Reed will remain a member of its advisory board. Reed also is a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and is chair of the board of directors of the Computing Research Association. At Microsoft he will report to Rick Rashid, senior vice president of research.

In a statement, Rashid said Reed will help Microsoft explore the impact of multicore processors on software development as well as opportunities created for software-as-a-service.

“Dan brings to Microsoft Research the kind of vision and expertise that will help us unleash the potential of software for these new computing paradigms,” Rashid said.

RENCI has grown to employ some 100 people, and Reed said in his departure statement that he is proud of what the group has achieved in a variety of areas, such as in research and development and education.

"I came to North Carolina with a vision for a multidisciplinary institute that leveraged computing to enrich and empower research and education, support economic development and advance social issues,” he said. “RENCI is the realization of that dream. I’m proud of our accomplishments and the professional staff who have given their time and talents to develop collaborations that are making a difference in North Carolina. Under Alan’s leadership, RENCI will continue to set the example for how partnerships and innovative technologies can solve important problems."