DONAR: Decentralized Server Selection for Cloud Services

Patrick Wendell, Joe Wenjie Jiang, Michael J. Freedman, and Jennifer Rexford
Appears in: 
CCR October 2010

Geo-replicated services need an effective way to direct client requests to a particular location, based on performance, load, and cost. This paper presents DONAR, a distributed system that can offload the burden of replica selection, while providing these services with a sufficiently expressive interface for specifying mapping policies. Most existing approaches for replica selection rely on either central coordination (which has reliability, security, and scalability limitations) or distributed heuristics (which lead to suboptimal request distributions, or even instability). In contrast, the distributed mapping nodes in DONAR run a simple, efficient algorithm to coordinate their replica-selection decisions for clients. The protocol solves an optimization problem that jointly considers both client performance and server load, allowing us to show that the distributed algorithm is stable and effective. Experiments with our DONAR prototype—providing replica selection for CoralCDN and the Measurement Lab—demonstrate that our algorithm performs well “in the wild.” Our prototype supports DNS- and HTTP-based redirection, IP anycast, and a secure update protocol, and can handle many customer services with diverse policy objectives.