Speeding up the internet

Lars Larsson
Lars Larsson, doktorand på Institutionen för datavetenskap vid Umeå universitet. Foto: Cristian Klein.

The (computing) cloud does not offer infinite capacity, despite the messages in its marketing. Lars Larsson’s dissertation is about strategies for managing when the computer cloud’s resources are insufficient and approaches the problem from the perspective of both cloud providers and its customers.

Lars Larsson will defend his dissertation on October 16 at Umeå University.

Why do web pages still feel slow despite all the resources in the cloud? Nothing is infinite: neither the amount of computer resources in the cloud providers’ data centers nor the customers’ budgets for renting capacity. Performance problems are inevitable. But what’s worst? Not being able to shop at all at an e-retailer or missing out on personalized product recommendations?

Today’s web pages rarely take into account the amount of available capacity. They always try to create the “correct” version of the content, despite the risk of delay or the system not responding at all. Lars Larsson’s research suggests ways to reduce the amount of data processing, sometimes by automatically reusing previous results. This reduces the load on the systems directly.

The cloud providers themselves also have capacity problems. There are times when their data center is simply not enough.

“I approach the cloud resource problem from two directions. For cloud providers, the solution is to collaborate by creating federations and to schedule smarter both within their own data center and within the federation. For customers, it is possible to adapt their applications according to how much capacity is available,” says Lars Larsson.

He suggests that cloud providers cooperate in federations and that customers may express rules, for example that parts of the application may not leave certain geographical areas. Within the rules, cloud providers are free to schedule the components of the applications and thereby optimize profitability. Federations between smaller cloud providers would be a way to offer, for example, EU-specific cloud services.

“The EU’s cloud suppliers are almost a decade behind the USA. As the European Court of Justice has ruled that the EU-US cooperation “Privacy Shield” does not offer protection of personal data under GDPR, the EU needs to catch up quickly.”

Cooperation is required, says Lars Larsson, as European cloud providers are neither the size nor mature enough in their service offerings. Especially if the edge computing of the future in the best / worst case allows each mobile base station to be its own mini-cloud.

Lars Larsson began his doctoral studies eleven years ago, but in terms of studies, he is still defending his dissertation ahead of schedule.

“I have alternated my doctoral studies with jobs in industry. After the dissertation, I plan to start up an office in Lund for the spin-off company Elastisys.”