Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name



Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Cheng-Zhong Xu


The last five years have witnessed a rapid growth of cloud computing in business, governmental and educational IT deployment. The success of cloud services depends critically on the effective management of virtualized resources. A key requirement of cloud management is the ability to dynamically match resource allocations to actual demands, To this end, we aim to design and implement a cloud resource management mechanism that manages underlying complexity, automates resource provisioning and controls client-perceived quality of service (QoS) while still achieving resource efficiency.

The design of an automatic resource management centers on two questions: when to adjust resource allocations and how much to adjust. In a cloud, applications have different definitions on capacity and cloud dynamics makes it difficult to determine a static resource to performance relationship. In this dissertation, we have proposed a generic metric that measures application capacity, designed model-independent and adaptive approaches to manage resources and built a cloud management system scalable to a cluster of machines.

To understand web system capacity, we propose to use a metric of

productivity index (PI), which is defined as the ratio of yield to

cost, to measure the system processing capability online. PI is a generic concept that can be applied to different levels to monitor system progress in order to identify if more capacity is needed. We applied the concept of PI to the problem of overload prevention in multi-tier websites. The overload predictor built on the PI metric shows more accurate and responsive overload prevention compared to conventional approaches.

To address the issue of the lack of accurate server model, we propose a model-independent fuzzy control based approach for CPU allocation. For adaptive and stable control performance, we embed the controller with self-tuning output amplification and flexible rule selection. Finally, we build a QoS provisioning framework that supports multi-objective QoS control and service differentiation. Experiments on a virtual cluster with two service classes show the effectiveness of our approach in both performance and power control.

To address the problems of complex interplay between resources and process delays in fine-grained multi-resource allocation, we consider capacity management as a decision-making problem and employ reinforcement learning (RL) to optimize the process. The optimization depends on the trial-and-error interactions with the cloud system. In order to improve the initial management performance, we propose a model-based RL algorithm. The neural network based environment model, which is learned from previous management history, generates simulated resource allocations for the RL agent. Experiment results on heterogeneous applications show that our approach makes efficient use of limited interactions and find near optimal resource configurations within 7 steps.

Finally, we present a distributed reinforcement learning approach to the cluster-wide cloud resource management. We decompose the cluster-wide resource allocation problem into sub-problems concerning individual VM resource configurations. The cluster-wide allocation is optimized if individual VMs meet their SLA with a high resource utilization. For scalability, we develop an efficient reinforcement learning approach with continuous state space. For adaptability, we use VM low-level runtime statistics to accommodate workload dynamics. Prototyped in a iBalloon system, the distributed learning approach successfully manages 128 VMs on a 16-node close correlated cluster.