Flux Research Group / School of Computing

The Design and Operation of CloudLab

Dmitry Duplyakin, Robert Ricci, Aleksander Maricq, Gary Wong, Jonathon Duerig, Eric Eide, Leigh Stoller, Mike Hibler, David Johnson, Kirk Webb, Aditya Akella, Kuangching Wang, Glenn Ricart, Larry Landweber, Chip Elliott, Michael Zink, Emmanuel Cecchet, Snigdhaswin Kar, and Prabodh Mishra

Proceedings of the USENIX Annual Technical Conference (ATC) 2019.

Testbeds, Cloud


Given the highly empirical nature of research in cloud computing, networked systems, and related fields, testbeds play an important role in the research ecosystem. In this paper, we cover one such facility, CloudLab, which supports systems research by providing raw access to programmable hardware, enabling research at large scales, and creating a shared platform for repeatable research.

We present our experiences designing CloudLab and operating it for four years, serving nearly 4,000 users who have run over 79,000 experiments on 2,250 servers, switches, and other pieces of datacenter equipment. From this experience, we draw lessons organized around two themes. The first set comes from analysis of data regarding the use of CloudLab: how users interact with it, what they use it for, and the implications for facility design and operation. Our second set of lessons comes from looking at the ways that algorithms used "under the hood," such as resource allocation, have important - and sometimes unexpected - effects on user experience and behavior. These lessons can be of value to the designers and operators of IaaS facilities in general, systems testbeds in particular, and users who have a stake in understanding how these systems are built.