The 9th USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation (OSDI ‘10) was recently held in Vancouver, B.C. This biennial conference is one of the premiere forums for presenting innovative research in distributed systems from both academia and industry, and we were glad to be a part of it.

In addition to sponsoring this conference since 2002, Googlers contributed to the exchange of scientific ideas through authoring or co-authoring 3 published papers, organizing workshops, and serving on the program committee. A short summary of the contributions:

  • Large-scale Incremental Processing Using Distributed Transactions and Notifications.
    Google replaced its batch-oriented indexing system with an incremental system, Percolator. Rather than running a series of high-latency map-reduces over large batches of documents, we now index individual documents at very low latency. The result is a 50% reduction in search result age; our paper discusses this project and the implications of the result.
  • Availability in Globally Distributed Storage Systems.
    Reliable and efficient storage systems are a key component of cloud-based services. In this paper we characterize the availability properties of cloud storage systems based on extensive monitoring of Google's main storage infrastructure and present statistical models that enable further insight into the impact of multiple design choices, such as data placement and replication strategies. We demonstrate the utility of these models by computing data availability under a variety of replication schemes given the real patterns of failures observed in our fleet.
  • Onix: A Distributed Control Platform for Large-scale Production Networks.
    There has been recent interest in a new networking paradigm called Software-Defined Networking (SDN). The crucial enabler for SDN is distributed control platform that shields developers from the details of the underlying physical infrastructure and allows them to write sophisticated control logic against a high-level API. Onix provides such a control platform for large-scale production networks.

In addition to the papers presented by current Googlers, we were also happy to see that the recipient of the 2009 Google Ph.D. Fellowship in Cloud Computing, Roxana Geambasu, presented her work on Comet: An active distributed key-value store.

Videos of all of the talks from OSDI are available on the conference website for attendees and current USENIX members. There is also a USENIX YouTube channel with a growing subset of the conference videos open to everyone.

Google is making substantial progress on many of the grand challenge problems in computer science and artificial intelligence as part of its mission to organize the worlds information and make it useful. Given the continuing increase in the scale of our distributed systems it’s fair to say we’ll have some other exciting new work to share at the next OSDI. Hope to see you in 2012.