Partitionable Services Framework: Seamless Access to Distributed Applications
Candidate: Anca-Andreea Ivan
Advisor: Vijay Karamcheti


A key problem in contemporary distributed systems is how to satisfy user quality of service (QoS) requirements for distributed applications deployed in heterogeneous, dynamically changing environments spanning multiple administrative domains.

An attractive solution is to create an infrastructure which satisfies user QoS requirements by automatically and transparently adapting distributed applications to any environment changes with minimum user input. However, successful use of this approach requires overcoming three challenges: (1) Capturing the application behavior and its relationship with the environment as a set of compact local specifications, using both general, quantitative (e.g., CPU usage) and qualitative (e.g., security) properties. Such information should be sufficient to reason about the global behavior of the application deployment. (2) Finding the ``best'' application deployment that satisfies both application and user requirements, and the various domain policies. The search algorithm should be complete, efficient, scalable with regard to application and network sizes, and guarantee optimality (e.g., resources consumed by applications). (3) Ensuring that the found deployments are practical and efficient, i.e., that the efficiency of automatic deployments is comparable with the efficiency of hand-tuned solutions.

This dissertation describes three techniques that address these challenges in the context of component-based applications. The modularity and reusability of the latter enable automatic deployments while supporting reasoning about the global connectivity based on the local information exposed by each component. The first technique extends the basic component-based application model with information about conditions and effects of component deployments and linkages, together with interactions between components and the network. The second technique uses AI planning to build an efficient and scalable algorithm which exploits the expressivity of the application model to find an application deployment that satisfies user QoS and application requirements. The last technique ensures that application deployments are both practical and efficient, by leveraging language and run-time system support to automatically customize components, as appropriate for the desired security and data consistency guarantees. These techniques are implemented as integral parts of the Partitionable Services Framework (PSF), a Java-based framework which flexibly assembles component-based applications to suit the properties of their environment. PSF facilitates on-demand, transparent migration and replication of application components at locations closer to clients, while retaining the illusion of a monolithic application.

The benefits of PSF are evaluated by deploying representative component-based applications in an environment simulating fast and secure domains connected by slow and insecure links. Analysis of the programming and the deployment processes shows that: (1) the code modifications required by PSF are minimal,(2) PSF appropriately adapts the deployments based on the network state and user QoS requirements, (3) the run-time deployment overheads incurred by PSF are negligible compared to the application lifetime, and (4) the efficiency of PSF-deployed applications matches that of hand-crafted solutions.