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Nines are Not Enough: Meaningful Metrics for Clouds

Proc. 17th Workshop on Hot Topics in Operating Systems (HoTOS) (2019)


Cloud customers want reliable, understandable promises from cloud providers that their applications will run reliably and with adequate performance, but today, providers offer only limited guarantees, which creates uncertainty for customers. Providers also must define internal metrics to allow them to operate their systems without violating customer promises or expectations. We explore why these guarantees are hard to define. We show that this problem shares some similarities with the challenges of applying statistics to make decisions based on sampled data. We also suggest that defining guarantees in terms of defense against threats, rather than guarantees for application-visible outcomes, can reduce the complexity of these problems. Overall, we offer a partial framework for thinking about Service Level Objectives (SLOs), and discuss some unsolved challenges.

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