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Server Consolidation in Data Centers
In data centers, a large number of heterogeneous workloads can run on servers at various times. These heterogeneous workloads can be roughly divided into two categories: chatty workloads and noninter-active workloads. Chatty workloads may burst at some point and return to a silent state at some other point. A web video service is an example of this, whereby a lot of people use it at night and few peo-ple use it during the day. Noninteractive workloads do not require people’s efforts to make progress after they are submitted. High-performance computing is a typical example of this. At various stages, the requirements for resources of these workloads are dramatically different. However, to guarantee that a workload will always be able to cope with all demand levels, the workload is statically allo-cated enough resources so that peak demand is satisfied.
Therefore, it is common that most servers in data centers are underutilized. A large amount of hardware, space, power, and management cost of these servers is wasted. Server consolidation is an approach to improve the low utility ratio of hardware resources by reducing the number of physical servers. Among several server consolidation techniques such as centralized and physical consolida-tion, virtualization-based server consolidation is the most powerful. Data centers need to optimize their resource management. Yet these techniques are performed with the granularity of a full server machine, which makes resource management far from well optimized. Server virtualization enables smaller resource allocation than a physical machine.
In general, the use of VMs increases resource management complexity. This causes a challenge in terms of how to improve resource utilization as well as guarantee QoS in data centers. In detail, server virtualization has the following side effects:
• Consolidation enhances hardware utilization. Many underutilized servers are consolidated into fewer servers to enhance resource utilization. Consolidation also facilitates backup services and disaster recovery.
• This approach enables more agile provisioning and deployment of resources. In a virtual environment, the images of the guest OSes and their applications are readily cloned and reused.
• The total cost of ownership is reduced. In this sense, server virtualization causes deferred purchases of new servers, a smaller data-center footprint, lower maintenance costs, and lower power, cooling, and cabling requirements.
• This approach improves availability and business continuity. The crash of a guest OS has no effect on the host OS or any other guest OS. It becomes easier to transfer a VM from one server to another, because virtual servers are unaware of the underlying hardware.
To automate data-center operations, one must consider resource scheduling, architectural support, power management, automatic or autonomic resource management, performance of analytical mod-els, and so on. In virtualized data centers, an efficient, on-demand, fine-grained scheduler is one of the key factors to improve resource utilization. Scheduling and reallocations can be done in a wide range of levels in a set of data centers. The levels match at least at the VM level, server level, and data-center level. Ideally, scheduling and resource reallocations should be done at all levels. However, due to the complexity of this, current techniques only focus on a single level or, at most, two levels.
Dynamic CPU allocation is based on VM utilization and application-level QoS metrics. One method considers both CPU and memory flowing as well as automatically adjusting resource over-head based on varying workloads in hosted services. Another scheme uses a two-level resource management system to handle the complexity involved. A local controller at the VM level and a global controller at the server level are designed. They implement autonomic resource allocation via the interaction of the local and global controllers. Multicore and virtualization are two cutting tech-niques that can enhance each other.
However, the use of CMP is far from well optimized. The memory system of CMP is a typical example. One can design a virtual hierarchy on a CMP in data centers. One can consider protocols that minimize the memory access time, inter-VM interferences, facilitating VM reassignment, and supporting inter-VM sharing. One can also consider a VM-aware power budgeting scheme using multiple managers integrated to achieve better power management. The power budgeting policies cannot ignore the heterogeneity problems. Consequently, one must address the trade-off of power saving and data-center performance.
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