The Cost of a Cloud: Research Problems in Data Center Networks

Albert Greenberg, James Hamilton, Dave Maltz, and Parveen Patel


The data centers used to create cloud services represent a significant

investment in capital outlay and ongoing costs. Accordingly,

we first examine the costs of cloud service data centers today. The

cost breakdown reveals the importance of optimizing work completed

per dollar invested. Unfortunately, the resources inside the

data centers often operate at low utilization due to resource stranding

and fragmentation. To attack this first problem, we propose (1)

increasing network agility, and (2) providing appropriate incentives

to shape resource consumption. Second, we note that cloud service

providers are building out geo-distributed networks of data centers.

Geo-diversity lowers latency to users and increases reliability in the

presence of an outage taking out an entire site. However, without

appropriate design and management, these geo-diverse data center

networks can raise the cost of providing service. Moreover, leveraging

geo-diversity requires services be designed to benefit from it. To

attack this problem, we propose (1) joint optimization of network

and data center resources, and (2) new systems and mechanisms for

geo-distributing state.


Publication typeArticle
Published inComputer Communications Review
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc.
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