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SWITCH Report Summary

Project ID: 643963
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SWITCH (Software Workbench for Interactive, Time Critical and Highly self-adaptive cloud applications)

Reporting period: 2016-02-01 to 2017-01-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Many industrial applications impose strict time-critical requirements on performance, addressing issues of Quality of Service (QoS) (e.g. tsunami emergency response) or quality of experience (QoE) (e.g. high definition television or remote conferencing). The development of such ‘time-critical’ applications is usually difficult and costly because of the high requirements on runtime environment and the optimisation needed during application development. Cloud environments provide elastic and controllable on-demand services for supporting a range of applications, but the methodologies and tools for producing classical time-critical applications do not fully account for the programmability provided by Clouds, preventing time-critical applications from exploiting their full benefits. There is an urgent need to develop new methods and tools that better account for Cloud.
The goal of the SWITCH project is to address the entire lifecycle of time-critical, self-adaptive Cloud applications by developing new middleware and tools for interactive specification of applications and their time-critical requirements. Developers describe and deploy their applications via a GUI, which are then adapted at runtime automatically. SWITCH aims to achieve the following concrete objectives:
Increase the productivity of application development for time-critical applications by implementing a SWITCH Interactive Development Environment (SIDE) that provides the interactive frontend. SIDE will provide interfaces for developers to define application logic and the abstract runtime environment, specifying and validating QoS/QoE constraints.
Improve the deployment efficiency for time-critical applications in Clouds by implementing a Dynamic Real-time Infrastructure Planner (DRIP) that provides middleware for planning the deployment of an application, accounting for network-level metrics such as throughput along with the controllability of infrastructure and customising the runtime environment accordingly before deploying the application after agreeing SLAs with Cloud providers.
Improve the QoS/QoE control efficiency for time-critical applications in Clouds, by implementing an Autonomous System Adaptation Platform (ASAP) that can autonomously deploy, monitor and adapt the application and Cloud environment (including network) in order to continue to satisfy QoS/QoE requirements; ASAP can learn over time, or can be direct steered by users.
Improve the development and execution model of time-critical applications in the programmable environments provided by Clouds by defining an application-infrastructure co-programming and control model that captures the interaction between SIDE, DRIP and ASAP and makes this applicable to time-critical Cloud application development, deployment and control in general.
Promote and exploit the SWITCH methods and software to test and validate the SWITCH methodology, architecture, formal model and workbench through a set of comprehensive pilot scenarios. By this approach we will communicate and promote our results and investigate avenues for exploitation of innovations.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

In year 1 we analysed requirements, reviewed technologies, identified gaps, produced a system design and prototyped key components in all subsystems. In year 2 we focused on incremental development of system functionality, integration of components, the production of use case components, and the release of an integrated version of the software. Based on the overall architecture, we made more detailed technical descriptions of each subsystem, then provided a more refined version of the semantic linking framework for describing the information dependencies of different components along with a detailed specification of the learning strategies to be used in ASAP. These technical results were published in deliverables on application-infrastructure co-programming, infrastructure planning, ASAP, the semantic linking framework, and learning strategies. The pilot use case providers then proceeded to describe their respective use cases using SWITCH functionality, and provided their technical specifications and prototypes. Several papers were published, in a peer-reviewed journal (FGCS) and a number of conferences (incl. CLOUD, ISORC, CloudForward, IT4RIs at RTSS and CCPI at AINA). Workshops were co-organised to discuss issues in Cloud infrastructure (IT4RIs by UvA), time-critical applications (WORKS by CU), and Cloud service models (CLASS by UL). The SWITCH concept has been presented in several industrial exhibitions incl. ServiceExpo, NAB and IBC, and for training (EBU Masterclasses).

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Progress has been made on a multi viewpoint graphical interface in SIDE based on the activities of developers during the entire lifecycle of time-critical applications; SWITCH uses the TOSCA standard as an interchange format between internal services and uses a knowledge base to inform planning and execution of applications. The core algorithms in DRIP for customising virtual infrastructure (including VM selection, topology customisation and SDN controller placement) have been developed based on critical path and genetic algorithm based deadline-aware planning, provisioning of virtual infrastructure in multiple data centres with transparent network configuration, and deployment of application Docker containers onto provisioned infrastructure with deadline-based constraints. The software is included as part of the V1 release, and has been tested on ExoGENI and Amazon EC2 test-beds. A monitoring system developed in ASAP aggregates information from the different levels of middleware between application and infrastructure, and employs a knowledge base to diagnose system performance and to control behaviour. A semantic linking framework has been used to derive schemas for different information objects and for modelling QoS/QoE constraints at all application and infrastructure levels. This framework also permits the evaluation of external standards for implementing those objects, e.g. TOSCA for application descriptions.
The model and tools developed in the project will improve development productivity of time-critical Cloud applications. The market potential for such applications will be more than $11 billion looking only at the domains of real-time communication, early warning and video broadcasting; across other domains, the total market potential may be 10 times that. SWITCH will upgrade Cloud infrastructure technologies for time-critical applications; domains requiring time-critical applications such as early warning, live broadcast and real-time communication face a strong push for greater capacity and better service quality to compete with new players in the market. The SWITCH environment will improve deployment efficiency of time-critical applications; rapid delivery and deployment of time-critical services to customers are themselves critical requirements for SMEs like WT, BEIA and MOG. SWITCH aims to reduce the operational cost of time critical services; the operating cost for time critical services such as disaster early warning is, on average, 40% of the total system cost, and can sometimes rise to more than 80% in extreme cases. SWITCH can promote the business competitiveness of Clouds; by 2020, Cloud technologies will contribute 1% of GDP to the entire EU, of which Software as a Service will constitute €30–40 billion, the largest piece of which will come from applications and not from the platforms.

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