A Smart Hill-Climbing Algorithm for Application Server Configuration

The overwhelming success of the Web as a mechanism for facilitating information retrieval and for conducting business transactions has led to an increase in the deployment of complex enterprise applications. These applications typically run on Web Application Servers, which assume the burden of managing many tasks, such as concurrency, memory management, database access, etc., required by these applications. The performance of an Application Server depends heavily on appropriate configuration. Configuration is a difficult and error-prone task due to the large number of configuration parameters and complex interactions between them. We formulate the problem of finding an optimal configuration for a given application as a black-box optimization problem. We propose a Smart Hill-Climbing algorithm using ideas of importance sampling and Latin Hypercube Sampling (LHS). The algorithm is efficient in both searching and random sampling. It consists of estimating a local function, and then, hill-climbing in the steepest descent direction. The algorithm also learns from past searches and restarts in a smart and selective fashion using the idea of importance sampling. We have carried out extensive experiments with an online brokerage application running in a WebSphere environment. Empirical results demonstrate that our algorithm is more efficient than and superior to traditional heuristic methods.

By: Bowei Xi, Zhen Liu, Mukund Raghavachari, Cathy H. Xia, Li Zhang

Published in: RC23316 in 2004


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