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Published June 2012 | public
Book Section - Chapter Open

Online Algorithms for Geographical Load Balancing


It has recently been proposed that Internet energy costs, both monetary and environmental, can be reduced by exploiting temporal variations and shifting processing to data centers located in regions where energy currently has low cost. Lightly loaded data centers can then turn off surplus servers. This paper studies online algorithms for determining the number of servers to leave on in each data center, and then uses these algorithms to study the environmental potential of geographical load balancing (GLB). A commonly suggested algorithm for this setting is "receding horizon control" (RHC), which computes the provisioning for the current time by optimizing over a window of predicted future loads. We show that RHC performs well in a homogeneous setting, in which all servers can serve all jobs equally well; however, we also prove that differences in propagation delays, servers, and electricity prices can cause RHC perform badly, So, we introduce variants of RHC that are guaranteed to perform as well in the face of such heterogeneity. These algorithms are then used to study the feasibility of powering a continent-wide set of data centers mostly by renewable sources, and to understand what portfolio of renewable energy is most effective.

Additional Information

© 2012 IEEE. This work was supported by NSF grants CCF 0830511, CNS 0911041, and CNS 0846025 MURI grant W911NF-08-1-0233, Microsoft Research, the Lee Center for Advanced Networking, and ARC grant FT099159.

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August 19, 2023
August 19, 2023