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In this paper, we present techniques for provisioning CPU and network resources in shared hosting platforms running potentially antagonistic third-party applications. The primary contribution of our work is to demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of overbooking resources in shared platforms, to maximize the platform yield: the revenue generated by the available resources. We do this by first deriving an accurate estimate of application resource needs by profiling applications on dedicated nodes, and then using these profiles to guide the placement of application components onto shared nodes. By overbooking cluster resources in a controlled fashion, our platform can provide performance guarantees to applications even when overbooked, and combine these techniques with commonly used QoS resource allocation mechanisms to provide application isolation and performance guarantees at run-time. When compared to provisioning based on the worst-case, the efficiency (and consequently revenue) benefits from controlled overbooking of resources can be dramatic. Specifically, experiments on our Linux cluster implementation indicate that overbooking resources by as little as 1% can increase the utilization of the cluster by a factor of two, and a 5% overbooking yields a 300-500% improvement, while still providing useful resource guarantees to applications.

1 Introduction and Motivation

Server clusters built using commodity hardware and software are an increasingly attractive alternative to traditional large multiprocessor servers for many applications, in part due to rapid advances in computing technologies and falling hardware prices.

This paper addresses challenges in the design of a type of server cluster we call a shared hosting platform. This can be contrasted with a dedicated hosting platform, where either the entire cluster runs a single application (such as a web search engine), or each individual processing element in the cluster is dedicated to a single application (as in the "managed hosting" services provided by some data centers). In contrast, shared hosting platforms run a large number of different third-party applications (web servers, streaming media servers, multiplayer game servers, e-commerce applications, etc.), and the number of applications typically exceeds the number of nodes in the cluster. More specifically, each application runs on a subset of the nodes and these subsets may overlap. Whereas dedicated hosting platforms are used for many niche applications that warrant their additional cost, economic reasons of space, power, cooling and cost make shared hosting platforms an attractive choice for many application hosting environments.

Shared hosting platforms imply a business relationship between the platform provider and application providers: the latter pay the former for resources on the platform. In return, the platform provider gives some kind of guarantee of resource availability to applications [17]. The central challenge to the platform provider is thus one of resource management: the ability to reserve resources for individual applications, the ability to isolate applications from other misbehaving or overloaded applications, and the ability to provide performance guarantees to applications.

Arguably, the widespread deployment of shared hosting platforms has been hampered by the lack of effective resource management mechanisms that meet these requirements. Most hosting platforms in use today adopt one of two approaches.

The first avoids resource sharing altogether by employing a dedicated model. This delivers useful resources to application providers, but is expensive in machine resources. The second approach shares resources in a best effort manner among applications, which consequently receive no resource guarantees. While this is cheap in resources, the value delivered to application providers is limited. Consequently, both approaches imply an economic disincentive to deploy viable hosting platforms.

Recently, several resource management mechanisms for shared hosting platforms have been proposed [1, 3, 7, 23]. This paper reports work performed in this context, but with two significant differences in goals.

Firstly, we seek from the outset to support a diverse set of potentially antagonistic network services simultaneously on a platform. The services will therefore have heterogeneous resource requirements; web servers, continuous media processors, and multiplayer game engines all make different demands on the platform in terms of resource bandwidth and latency. We evaluate our system with such a diverse application mix.

Secondly, we aim to support resource management policies based on yield management techniques such as those employed in the airline industry [19]. Yield management is driven by the business relationship between a platform provider and many application providers, and results in different short-term goals, in traditional approaches the most important aim is to satisfy all resource contracts while making efficient use of the platform. Yield management by contrast is concerned with ensuring that as much of the available resource as possible is used to generate revenue, rather than being utilized "for free" by a service (since it would otherwise be idle).

An analogy with air travel may clarify the point: instead of trying to ensure that every ticketed passenger gets to board their chosen flight, we try to ensure that no plane takes off with an empty seat (which is achieved by overbooking seats).

An immediate consequence of this goal is our treatment of"flash crowds"--a shared hosting platform should react to an unexpected high demand on an application only if there is an economic incentive for doing so. That is, the platform should allocate additional resources to an application only if it enhances revenue. Further, any increase in resource allocation of an application to handle unexpected high demands should not be at the expense of contract violations for other applications, since this is economically undesirable.

1.1 Research Contributions

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Dr. Bhuvan Urgaonkar, PhD has over 15 years of experience in the field of Software Engineering and Computers. His work includes research in computer systems software, distributed computing (including systems such as Zookeeper, Redis, Memcached, Cassandra, Kafka), datacenters, cloud computing, storage systems, energy efficiency of computers and datacenters, big data (including systems such as Hadoop, Spark). He serves as an expert / technical consultant with multiple firms helping them (i) understand technical content related to state of the art products in areas such as content distribution, distributed computing, datacenter design, among others and (ii) interpret patents in these areas and connections between them and state of the art products and services. Services are available to law firms, government agencies, schools, firms / corporations, and hospitals.

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