Characterizing Load Imbalance in Real-World Networked Caches

HotNets 2014: Thirteenth ACM Workshop on Hot Topics in Networks

By: Qi Huang, Helga Gudmundsdottir, Ymir Vigfusson, Daniel A. Freedman, Ken Birman, Robbert van Renesse


Modern Web services rely extensively upon a tier of in-memory caches to reduce request latencies and alleviate load on backend servers. Within a given cache, items are typically partitioned across cache servers via consistent hashing, with the goal of balancing the number of items maintained by each cache server. Effects of consistent hashing vary by associated hashing function and partitioning ratio. Most real-world workloads are also skewed, with some items significantly more popular than others. Inefficiency in addressing both issues can create an imbalance in cache-server loads.

We analyze the degree of observed load imbalance, focusing on read-only traffic against Facebook’s graph cache tier in Tao. We investigate the principal causes of load imbalance, including data co-location, non-ideal hashing scenarios, and hot-spot temporal effects. We also employ trace-drive analytics to study the benefits and limitations of current load-balancing methods, suggesting areas for future research.