Conference Contribution

Brownout: Building More Robust Cloud Applications

Cristian Klein, Martina Maggio, Karl-Erik Årzén, Francisco Hernández-Rodriguez


Self-adaptation is a first class concern for cloud applications, which should be able to withstand diverse runtime changes. Variations are simultaneously happening both at the cloud infrastructure level - for example hardware failures - and at the user workload level - flash crowds. However, robustly withstanding extreme variability, requires costly hardware over-provisioning.

In this paper, we introduce a self-adaptation programming paradigm called brownout. Using this paradigm, applications can be designed to robustly withstand unpredictable runtime variations, without over-provisioning. The paradigm is based on optional code that can be dynamically deactivated through decisions based on control theory.

We modified two popular web application prototypes - RUBiS and RUBBoS - with less than 170 lines of code, to make them brownout-compliant. Experiments show that brownout self-adaptation dramatically improves the ability to withstand flash-crowds and hardware failures.

In 36th International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE), Hyderabad, India, May 2014. Accepted for publication.