One of the interesting papers presented at USENIX 2009 was “Black-Box Performance Control for High-Volume Non-Interactive Systems” [pdf][html[slides]. Since this is right up my alley, I paid close attention and took some notes. The paper was authored by several IBM Research folks: Chunqiang Tang, Sunjit Tara, Rong N. Chang and Chun Zhang.
First of all, this is interesting and thought-provoking work. However, the paper deals with a very constrained environment of throughput-centric systems and with only a single pool of threads. I have reservations about the general applicability of the system to, say, disk scheduling. Nevertheless, their black box treatment of the system (multiple unknown bottlenecks) is quite interesting and it really made me wonder how else it could be extended. The main problem is that if you have multiple controls in the system (e.g. cpu, memory, disk, etc) that the effective online search they are performing will get really tricky. Nevertheless, good food for thought.