Towards Efficient and Practical Network Optimization for Big Data Analytics

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Department of Computer Science and Engineering

PhD Thesis Defence

Title: "Towards Efficient and Practical Network Optimization for Big Data


Mr. Hong ZHANG


Scale matters. In the era of big data, the unprecedented growth of data 
scale is fundamentally transforming the way we make sense of it. With the 
rapid rise of cloud computing, applications with massive input datasets 
are scaling out to thousands of machines to efficiently exploit I/O 
parallelism. These applications cover a wide variety of big data analytics 
to uncover hidden patterns, unknown correlations, and other useful 
information from the data.

As one of the major challenges introduced by these data-parallel 
applications, communication among the distributed tasks often results in 
massive data transfers over the network. To address this problem, we 
observe continuous efforts in industry to build high capacity, low-latency 
datacenter networking infrastructure at scale. In the meanwhile, we also 
observe concentrated efforts in academia to develop efficient network 
optimization mechanisms for big data analytics.

However, as a first-hand experience, we find efficient network 
optimization profoundly challenging — especially when performed in a 
practical manner. First, application-aware network scheduling using 
coflows serves as one important technique to improve application level 
communication performance. However, existing coflow-based solutions rely 
on modifying the underlying computing frameworks to identify coflows 
(i.e., to match the applications with the flows they generate), making 
them inapplicable to many practical scenarios. Moreover, precise network 
load balancing is crucial to ensure the network schedule and deliver 
suitable application performance. Meanwhile, production datacenters 
operate under various uncertainties such as traffic dynamics, topology 
asymmetry, and failures. These uncertainties make network load balancing 
challenging in practice.

Can we perform both efficient and practical network optimization for big 
data analytics? This dissertation describes my research efforts to answer 
this in the affirmative. First, we propose CODA, a practical 
application-aware network scheduling framework. CODA makes the first 
attempt at automatically identifying and scheduling coflows without any 
framework-level modification. As a result, it serves as one necessary and 
natural step towards practical network optimization for big data 
applications. Second, we present Hermes, a resilient load balancing scheme 
tailored for the dynamic and complex datacenter environment. Hermes 
gracefully handles various kinds of uncertainties (e.g., traffic dynamics, 
topology asymmetry, and failures) in a readily-deployable fashion.

Date:			Monday, 3 December 2018

Time:			2:00pm - 4:00pm

Venue:			Room 3494
 			Lifts 25/26

Chairman:		Prof. Pingbo Huang (LIFS)

Committee Members:	Prof. Kai Chen (Supervisor)
 			Prof. Wei Wang
 			Prof. Ke Yi
 			Prof. Jiang Xu (ECE)
 			Prof. Minghua Chen (CUHK)

**** ALL are Welcome ****