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Provisioning servers in the application tier for e-commerce systems

Abstract

Server providers that support e-commerce applications as a service for multiple e-commerce Web sites traditionally use a tiered server architecture. This architecture includes an application tier to process requests for dynamically generated content. How this tier is provisioned can significantly impact a provider's profit margin. In this article we study methods to provision servers in the application serving tier that increase a server provider's profits. First, we examine actual traces of request arrivals to the application tier of an e-commerce site, and show that the arrival process is effectively Poisson. Next, we construct an optimization problem in the context of a set of application servers modeled as M/G/1/PS queueing systems, and derive three simple methods that approximate the allocation that maximizes profits. Simulation results demonstrate that our approximation methods achieve profits that are close to optimal, and are significantly higher than those achieved via simple heuristics.

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