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A few weeks ago (May 23rd-26th) I traveled to sunny Newport Beach, California to present a paper, Improving Utilization of Infrastructure Clouds, at CCGrid 2011. Our paper addresses one of the main challenges faced by infrastructure cloud providers: ensuring that resources are utilized efficiently while still providing resources on-demand. To solve this catch-22, we deployed backfill VMs on idle VMM nodes. For evaluation, we deployed Condor in the backfill VMs and demonstrated an increase to 100% utilization of the infrastructure resources. All of the details are in the paper, so I won’t elaborate here. You can also try backfill for yourself with Nimbus 2.7.

While at the conference I also attended a number of excellent presentations. In the interest of brevity, I’ll highlight only a few of them here. The keynote on the second day, Maximizing Profit and Pricing in Cloud Environments, given by Albert Zomaya of the University of Sydney, discussed the challenges of pay-as-you-go cloud computing and the often conflicting objectives of cloud service providers (maximize profit) and cloud users (minimize expenses). Dr. Zomaya proposed numerous models and algorithms for profit-driven scheduling of resources. He also proposed an application profiling technique that detects application patterns (e.g. IO intensive, memory intensive, or CPU intensive) and then applies a prediction model to achieve optimal VM placement in a cloud infrastructure.

Another interesting discussion at CCGrid was a panel on autonomic cloud computing. The panel emphasized the difficulties of managing large-scale cloud infrastructures. Much of the panel focused on the need for tools and techniques to manage these resources in and automatic and efficient manner where resources dynamically scale (up or down) to match demand. The Chief of Research from Rackspace, Adrian Otto, highlighted the efforts at Rackspace to address this challenge. They analyzed various characteristics (e.g. identifying distribution models to describe bursts in website activity) to predict cloud resource needs.

There were many other excellent presentations, however, I’ll leave it to you to read the papers from the conference (the full program and paper listing is available here). Next year CCGrid is heading to Ottawa, Canada, perhaps I’ll see you there!

Sunset dinner cruise in Newport Bay

Sunset dinner cruise in Newport Bay