Title: Heading off correlated failures in cloud-scale systems

Abstract: Today’s cloud systems heavily rely on redundancy for reliability. Nevertheless, as cloud systems become ever more structurally complex, independent infrastructure components may unwittingly share deep dependencies. These unexpected common dependencies may result in correlated failures that undermine redundancy efforts. The state-of-the-art efforts, e.g., post-failure forensics not only lead to prolonged failure recovery time in the face of structurally complex systems, but also fail to avoid expensive service downtime. In this talk, I will present a series of work towards preventing correlated failures not only in a single cloud datacenter but also across multiple cloud providers. In the first part of the talk, I will show a system that helps the datacenter administrators proactively audit correlated failure risks through three steps: 1) automatically collecting component dependencies, 2) constructing a fault graph to model the target system stacks, and 3) analyzing the fault graph to identify potential risks. To ensure the practicality, efficiency, and accuracy of our approach, we further equip this auditing system with a domain-specific auditing language framework, a set of high-performance auditing primitives based on SAT/SMT solvers, and an automatic correlated failure risk repair engine. In the second part of the talk, I will present another auditing system capable of preventing correlated failures across multiple cloud providers unwilling to share their dependency information due to the business privacy concern. We construct a private set similarity protocols to evaluate the independence of each alternative inter-cloud replications without leaking any sensitive information, thus avoiding correlated failures across different providers at the early stage.

Bio: Ennan Zhai is currently an Associate Research Scientist in the Computer Science Department at Yale University, where he also received his Ph.D. in 2015. His research focuses on building secure and reliable computer systems. Specifically, his work takes advantage of an interdisciplinary approach, integrating areas including distributed systems, security, verification, and programming languages.