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From the Cloud to the Edge

QoE, Social Awareness, and

Energy Efficiency in Userowned Nano Data Centers

1. SmartenIT at a Glance
The massive adoption of the cloud computing paradigm and its broad portfolio of service
offerings poses substantial challenges to different stakeholders playing in the cloud
landscape, more specifically Internet Service Providers (ISP), Data Center owners, and
Cloud Service Providers (CSP). Most of these challenges derive from the fact that new
services are offered according to the cloud principle of service transparency, where endusers are fully unaware of heterogeneous underlying cross-layer infrastructures and assets
that compose the service purchased.
Today and at the state of art all stakeholders contributing to the service chain lack a unified
and cooperative view on the end-to-end service to be exposed to the end-user, which
results in the absence of a cross-layer, inter-domain approach to challenges posed by
service composition and proper end-to-end Service Level Agreements (SLA) management.
Major drawback of the depicted landscape is the unfair management of inter-cloud/interdomain traffic, with extra burden on ISP/CSP owned infrastructure.
Another key topic, which constitutes at the same time a challenge as well as an opportunity, is the growth of traffic driven by social networks, which turns out for its unpredictability
and burstiness of network traffic to be running on an increasing number of energy demanding end-user devices and network equipment.
These energy awareness considerations play another important role. Cloud computing, by
leveraging virtualization technology, is inherently more energy-efficient than an older computing paradigm, but its full potential of savings has not been exploited yet.
In this complex and multi-sided landscape SmartenITs main idea and approach developed
is to innovate on two main aspects, which are strictly correlated: the first is related to the
analysis of new business schemes, which are intended to forecast cross-layer and inter-domain cooperation with an incentive-based approach, the second is to develop new traffic
management mechanisms, which leverage newly developed business schemes. More in
detail SmartenITs innovation explored the possibility of embedding new traffic management solutions with main topics as inter-domain collaboration, energy-aware and socialawareness considerations, to provide a tangible impact on end-user devices and underlying
networking infrastructure as well as application provisioning infrastructure of service providers.
Therefore, SmartenITs landscape has been divided in two macro perspectives, namely the
Operator Focused Scenario (OFS) and the End-user Focused Scenario (EFS).
The first scenario is dedicated to the analysis of inter-relationships among service providers, whose infrastructure is used to compose cloud services to be offered to end-users,
with a major focus on the management of inter-domain traffic and on the analysis of mutual
interests of those stakeholders involved.
The second scenario sees the end-user as its main focus, dealing with topics of end-user
interaction in a social network landscape and Quality-of-Experience (QoE), when purchasing cloud services. By leveraging these two scenarios, SmartenIT has designed suitable
incentive-compatible cross-layer network management schemes to drive an efficient and
beneficial interaction among service providers and end-users.
The following sections of this white paper introduce SmartenITs approach and solutions
across the EFS scenario domain.

SmartenIT White Paper EFS

2. QoE and Social Awareness in Traffic

Management: The User at the Center
Mobile devices are already a central part of every days life, as shown by the average number of hours consumers spend with their smartphones or tablets. Cisco estimated that
mobile video traffic grew to 55% of the overall mobile traffic by the end of 2014. However,
even if mobile data rates and Internet access bandwidth increase, so does the number of
connected devices. In this ecosystem, the QoE for the end-users plays an important role in
the consumption of video content. As Ericsson reports after studying YouTube sessions
tracked from users in Sweden and the USA, there is a clear relation between perceived
throughput and viewing session length: the higher the throughput, the longer the viewing
time. With video resolution quality increasing, it is obvious that higher throughput will be
required and additional video traffic will be destined from cloud-based infrastructures to
consumers mobile devices.
Furthermore, Online Social Networks (OSN) has also attracted a lot of attention. Ericssons
report states that mobile data traffic from social networking amounts for 15% of the total
mobile traffic, and that this percentage will be preserved until 2020, rendering the social
networks as the second largest mobile traffic source. And this is of no surprise, since
Facebook reported that by the end of 2014, the mobile Daily Active Users and the mobile
Monthly Active Users have increased by 34% and 26% year-over-year, respectively. Moreover, since June 2014, when video uploads were introduced in Facebook, an average of
more than 1 billion videos have been viewed every day. On average, more than 50% of
people visiting Facebook every day in the USA watch at least one video daily and 76% of
people in the USA using Facebook say they tend to discover the videos they watch on
Facebook. One can easily understand that social networks constitute a modern and pervasive way for content dissemination and distribution.
It becomes apparent that the role of social networks cannot be neglected and trends for
video consumption by mobile devices need to be considered upon designing modern traffic
management mechanisms. Deducing content dissemination patterns from social networking relationships, when combined with traditional traffic management solutions, can
result in efficient management of the generated traffic for the network operator and can
guarantee a high QoE for the end-users. Bringing content closer to the end users, based on
their social activities, without necessarily constructing an in-depth profile of their preferences but rather deduce preferences from social interactions, renders as one direction for further exploitation of the available social information.
In addition, existing social communities can be exploited to introduce smart WiFi roaming
and mobile data offloading solutions. Modern captive portals in public spaces use social
credentials for log in and marketing purposes. Other approaches, like Microsofts WiFi
Sense feature introduced in Windows 10, move the focus to seamless WiFi connectivity
and roaming, based on trust inferred by relationships in social networks.

3. SmartenIT Solutions for End-users

Research has shown that delivering VoD (Video-on-Demand) content can be more energy
efficient if set-top-boxes (deployed at ISP or end-user premises), are used to assist a data
center in the delivery of the content. In this hybrid approach, using data centers and Nano
Data Centers (NaDa), NaDas serve content that they already downloaded from other
SmartenIT White Paper EFS

NaDas, reducing the load on the data center and increasing the energy efficiency of the
entire system. This approach saves at least 20% to 30% of the energy compared to traditional data centers, even under the most pessimistic scenarios. Content providers benefit
from reduced load on their datacenters and thus, lower energy cost. The additional cost for
the users is minimal, since their NaDas run anyways during video playback.
Within this framework, SmartenIT provides two different solutions, namely RB-HORST
(Replicating Balanced Home Router Sharing based on Trust) and SEConD (Socially-aware
Mechanism for Efficient Content Delivery), which will be presented in the remaining of the
chapter. In the remain part of the chapter we will discuss the main aspects of the tow
SmartenIT traffic management mechanism with proper focus on caching and prefetching,
social awareness, and energy efficiency topics.
The RB-HORST solution takes the NaDa concept one step further to port these gains in
energy efficiency and cost reduction into a more general scenario.

3.1 RB-HORST and SECOND Traffic Management Mechanism

Every household connected to the Internet needs a router in the premises; typically these
home routers are small devices that also provide WiFi connection. Thus, many of these devices are deployed worldwide and are usually not switched off during the night. Many home
router models offer additional functionality like file or printer sharing. Therefore, home routers constitute the ideal host system for the RB-HORST approach designed by SmartenIT.
Furthermore, home routers are typically owned and maintained by the users themselves
which is a key advantage when dealing with social information, since privacy concerns are
minimized compared to centralized storage of sensitive data. To stress the fact that the
home routers used with RB-HORST are under the control of their owners the term userowned Nano Data Center (uNaDa) is introduced.
Augmenting home routers to serve as uNaDas is ideal for caching.
Figure 1 shows the exactly that scenario RB-RHORST addresses. The uNaDa, acting as a
network gateway, can collect all requests made from its internal network to the Vimeo VoD
portal. By acting as a transparent proxy server, the uNaDa can intercept and redirect
requests to its local cache if possible. Furthermore, a uNaDa will share its content with
other uNaDas and the data center will be even more relieved. Additionally, RB-HORST
takes network locality into account, when sharing content with other uNaDas to avoid
creating unnecessary inter-domain traffic (red arrow). To further save network traffic and
improve users QoE RB-HORST pre-fetches content that has a high probability to be
watched by users attached. To achieve this, the uNaDa monitors the Facebook feed of its
owner for content.
A uNaDa can be used to store users private information, since they are controlling access
to the device. RB-HORST keeps all data collected from social networks on that uNaDa a
user is registered, ensuring that no social information leaves the control of its owner. Furthermore, keeping sensitive data distributed makes an attack on uNaDas less worthwhile,
since only a few users data are stored on one single uNaDa. Therefore, RB-HORST does
not require users to entrust their sensitive data into the hands of an ISP and solves the any
potential privacy concern with the creation of a trust relationship via an overlay connection
among the user themselves.
The RB-HORST mechanism eases mobile data offloading to wireless communications,
such as WiFi, by sharing home-based Access Points among trusted friends. Moreover, it
SmartenIT White Paper EFS

allows for the placement of content near to the end-user such that users can access it with
smaller delay and higher speed, which generally results in higher QoE. Once uNaDas are
registered, WiFi offloading of RB-HORST Content can be achieved. When a user carrying
a mobile device enters the coverage of a friendly uNaDa, determining a uNaDa of one of
his or her Facebook friends, he or she is informed by an Android App of the opportunity to
switch from the mobile data network to the WiFi. The user can chose to connect to this
WiFi network by using the credentials provided directly by the friendly uNaDa. Each owner
of a home gateway (typically the uNaDa itself), registers its uNaDa to the social network, by
providing its GPS (Global Positioning System) coordinates and the credentials required
accessing the private network, including the SSID (Service Set Identifier). WiFi credentials
become available to friends (in terms of social networking) of the user.

Data Center Layer

RB-HORST Instance
RB-Horst Overlay
Better Path of Traffic
Regular Path of Traffic
Worse Path of Traffic

Transit Network Layer


Access Network Layer



Home Network 2

Home Network 3


Home Network 1

End User Layer

Figure 1: How RB-HORST fits in existing Internet infrastructure

Building on those RB-HORSTs social features, the SEConD mechanism increases prefetching and downloading efficiency introducing chunk based transmission and prediction.
SEConD, also designed by SmartenIT, is a traffic management mechanism employing
social awareness, AS-locality (Autonomous System) awareness, chunk-based P2P (Peerto-Peer) content delivery, and prefetching, and a centralized node acting as cache, P2P
tracker and proxy to improve the QoE of video streaming for users of OSNs.
As Figure 2 shows, SEConD employs a socially-aware pull-based prefetching algorithm
that performs the following actions: (1) when an uploader (source user) uploads a video, he
pushes an alert message to each of the users in a messaging overlay corresponding to the
interest category of this video; (2) after a user receives an alert message, he sends a request to his local SPS (Social Proxy Server) asking to receive the prefix of the video
referred in the message; (3) when the local SPS receives a prefix request and if this is not
already cached, it downloads this prefix from the video server, where the video is hosted;
and (4) the local socially-aware proxy cache stores the prefix of this video and pushes it to
the user that initially requested it, and this proxy cache now stores it locally in his premises.

SmartenIT White Paper EFS

Figure 2: The Messaging Overlay of a Source User for a Specific Interest Category

3.2 Applicable Caching Techniques

Caching is widely used to support content delivery, video streaming, and many other
Internet applications. By placing content in caches close to end-users, caching improves
transport efficiency and service quality for the benefit of content and network providers as
well as users. These main goals and effects are shortening the transport paths and corresponding delays from an original server to the requesting users. This reduces traffic load
especially on expensive links, e.g., on international transatlantic routes or via paid peering.
The resulting throughput can be increased especially in access networks or on air interfaces in mobile networks, e.g., through shorter round trip times in TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) connections or through setting up new connections to a cache. Data is replicated in distributed caching infrastructures for higher availability and again for enabling
higher throughput from multiple caching servers in case of flash crowds. To reduce load,
traffic can also be shifted in time from busy hours to low load phases via prefetching.
Caching can be applied on flat or hierarchically organized distributed infrastructures in
different domains or in end-user premises. They can be operated by the Content Distribution Network (CDN) or service providers on a global scale (e.g., Google), by CDN providers
typically also having a global footprint (e.g., Akamai or Limelight), by network and Internet
service providers within their broadband access network architecture, and by administrators
of local networks. Finally, caching can be applied in user/client premises on home gateways or in browsers on end-devices. Wihtin the End-user Focused Scenario (EFS) of
SmartenIT, uNaDas are utilized for a hybrid, P2P-based caching solution. By encouraging
end-users to deploy uNaDas at home gateways in their household, a huge amount of caching capacities becomes available close to end-users. Eventually, these personal caches
can be used for an efficient caching and prefetching for individual users based on the
users request pattern and social information, as studied within the RB-HORST mechanism.
The efficiency of caches highly depends on their coordination and their replacement strategy. In contrast, for caches serving many users with thousands or even millions of requests per day, the daily changes in popularity ranking are observed to be moderate such
that there is low impact on the cache hit rate. Common strategies replace objects based on

SmartenIT White Paper EFS

their recent use or frequency by newly requested objects. Nevertheless, a cache with an
LRU (Least Recently Used) replacement strategy often requires 10-fold or even 100-fold
more storage for a 10% to 20% hit rate improvement compared to a cache with an arbitrary
score gated replacement strategy.
SmartenITs proposed the score gated LRU principle being combined with the simple LRU
updating method with the flexibility to include any arbitrary score function for selecting
objects to be put into the cache. In this way, criteria about the origin of the objects and
corresponding load, delay, and cost reduction can be included, or predictions of object popularity based on social networking information as well as other polices that the cache operator would like to be reflected in the object scores are possible.
For an optimum efficiency, caches in CDNs, the network, and the user domain have to be
better coordinated in order to store and access content in appropriate locations regarding
global, local, and individual request patterns. However, caching architectures under
different administration in clouds, CDNs, and ISP networks are usually treated separately.
Therefore, SmartenIT investigated the benefits of an integrated tiered caching architecture
consisting of end-user caches (uNaDas), ISP-owned caches, and caches in clouds or CDN.
It was shown that an overlay is mandatory for a good performance with many small caches.
Especially, the significantly increased caching capacity leads to a higher cache hit ratio.
This means that more requests can be served locally, which generally results in savings for
the ISPs, data center owners, and CSPs as well as an improved QoE for end-users.

3.3 Social Awareness and Prefetching Techniques

In OSNs users voluntarily provide information about themselves, their interests, their
friends, and their activities, especially about their current situation or events. These socalled social signals are ubiquitous and cannot only be collected from OSNs (e.g., friendships, interests, or trust-relevant metadata), but also from applications (e.g., messaging or
call patterns) and sensors (e.g., location). Social awareness harvests these signals, extracts useful and re-usable information (e.g., users' social relationships, activity patterns,
and interests), and exploits them in order to improve a service.
Recently in the field of Internet traffic management, work was conducted, which utilizes
social information, for example, to avoid congestion, increase bandwidth, or reduce latency.
In that context, social awareness links social signals and information, such as social
network structure, users' preferences, and behavior, to network management mechanisms.
In turn, such mechanisms can exploit this information in order to perform efficient network
management and traffic optimizations by means of content prefetching and placement to
enhance the performance of any overlay applications, e.g., video streaming or file sharing.
Socially-aware prefetching techniques predict future access to user-generated content,
e.g., pictures, files, or videos, based on information from these OSNs. In such settings,
hints are generated for replica placement or cache replacement.
For instance, the RB-HORST mechanism runs on uNaDas and home routers and leverages its unutilized resources, which are typically storage space and bandwidth. Storage
space is used to provide caches for content delivery that are close to end-users, while
bandwidth, which is not used at night, is used to pre-fetch content and store it in the cache.
Moreover, the Facebook account of the user is used for identity management and to
retrieve social information, which is used to optimize the content delivery by prefetching the
content of high interest close to end-users.

SmartenIT White Paper EFS

In particular, RB-HORST predicts content that will be consumed by clients of a uNaDa. The
prediction consists of two separate steps. The first is based on social information delivered
by the Facebook App and the second is based on the overlay itself. Social predictions consider, among others, content shared by friends, the location of a user, and the age of a
video. The overlay-based prediction uses information on cached or watched videos from
other RB-HORST-enabled uNaDas.
The update of the cache runs in parallel for each connected user and for the overlay-based
prediction. Each process has a separate virtual cache size, whereas the cache is commonly available for all users. Each process is able to check, if a certain video is already
present in the cache, such that it must not be downloaded.
The uNaDa accesses periodically the news feed of the owner and extracts all video
Uniform Resource Locators (URL). All URLs are ranked based on five dimensions:

History: The number of accesses to the video by the user

Popularity: The number of global accesses to the video
Age: The publication date of the video content
Distance: The distance of the closest content location
Social: The number of users who posted the video in the Facebook news feed

If the user is currently active at this uNaDa, the most relevant URLs are downloaded and
stored in that cache. If user is registered at another uNaDa, a message containing the most
relevant URLs for this user is sent to the other uNaDa.

3.3.1 Evaluation Results

The evaluation of the respective RB-HORST implementation performed by the SmartenIT
consortium shows that this mechanism has a very high potential to save expensive interdomain traffic and to take load off ISP caches. The amount of requests served locally
increases with the home router sharing probability and reaches 60% of all requests, if the
ISP cache capacity holds one percent of the video catalog size, which determines the
number of available videos in case of the Vimeo VoD approach introduced above.
Besides simulations performed, in a real life study with the RB-HORST mechanism 23
uNaDas running RB-HORST were deployed in households and offices. Thus, Figure 3
shows for each uNaDa the number of requests that were served from a Vimeo server and
the number of requests that were cached or pre-fetched and had been served by uNaDas.
In total 50% of these requests were served directly by uNaDas, thus, not putting any load
on the backhaul and caches in the content delivery network.
Evaluations of SEConD by means of an event-driven proprietary simulator under realistic
scenarios have shown that SEConD indeed achieves reduction of inter-AS traffic in potentially expensive transit links, both in total, and busy hours. Moreover, evaluations of
SEConD by means of an event-driven proprietary simulator under realistic scenarios have
shown that SEConD appears also to be very effective in the cases evaluated, since it
achieves: a) a high reduction of inter-AS traffic in the potentially expensive transit links,
both in total, and peak hours, b) high prefetching accuracy, and c) minimization of the contribution of the origin server of total traffic, in the content delivery due to the P2P
dissemination. Investigation of the impact of SEConD in multiple ASes of different size (i.e.
number of users) reveals that the larger the AS, the lower the contribution of the centralized
node (cache) to achieve similar performance. This provides evidence on the scalability of
the mechanism.
SmartenIT White Paper EFS

Figure 3: Requests Served by uNaDas Running RB-HORST

3.3.2 Energy Savings of Off-loading Techniques

As energy efficiency in information and communication technology is increasingly in the
focus when deploying networks, this aspect is prioritized in the RB-Horst approach.
Currently, the full RB-HORST runs on ARM platforms (Raspberry Pi and Odroid-C1) and
smartphones, which are characterized by a small energy footprint. Thus, no conventional
servers are required within the network to sustain RB-HORST.
As RB-HORST caches content on uNaDas, this content is available with a lower delay and
higher data rates compared to streaming content from the closest CDN node. This reduces
the power consumption on mobile devices as well, since downloads finish sooner, allowing
the device to switch off the respectively used network interface sooner. By using WiFi instead of the cellular network, additional savings are possible, since expensive connection
establishment and tear-down processes are almost completely eliminated and more energy
expensive 3G (3 Generation) network operations are omitted.
Caching the content on uNaDas further reduces peak loads within the operators network,
in particular during peak hours. This is caused by the caching and pre-fetching approaches
running, hence downloading content constantly. By equalizing the load on the network, the
peak demand can be reduced, while spare capacities are used, in particular during night
hours. This reduces energy wasted in operator networks during off-peak hours, and additionally by reducing traffic peaks currently deployed hardware can be used longer.
End-users benefit from a better QoE, while reducing the energy consumption on their
mobile devices. This comes at the cost of one additional device deployed at home premises. However, as those devices are deployed often already today, in future, RB-HORST
can be deployed on these home gateways and uNaDas, eliminating in full the need for
additional hardware. Considering an increased market penetration of such home gateways
including a significant storage capability in the range of a few gigabyte, the WiFi sharing
functionality extends possible QoE and energy efficiency improvements also to friends
homes. In case of a commercial deployment, this may also be used at retailers to increase
the customer loyalty by providing a convenient WiFi access with an improved QoE through
SmartenIT White Paper EFS

Figure 4: Impact of SEConD on Total Inter-AS Traffic during the Day

Additionally, ISPs and CDNs benefit from RB-HORST deployments by reduced and equalized demands on their hardware. Traffic peaks are reduced and content demand is shifted,
where possible, to off-peak hours. Therefore, currently deployed devices may be used for a
longer time and wasting energy during off-peak hours, caused by low demand, is reduced.

4. SmartenIT Solutions Matter to End-users

In order to highlight the efficiency of SmartenIT traffic management mechanisms studied
and developed within the framework of the End-user Focused Scenario (EFS), realistic use
cases have been defined from a business and technological perspective. Those use cases
describe real-world interactions driven by the SmartenIT EFS scenario, which takes the
dedicated perspective of end-users. These use cases provide, on one hand, the foundation
for the deployment of SmartenIT traffic management mechanisms in the real world and, on
the other hand, extent the investigation on interactions among SmartenIT stakeholders by
providing details on the provisioning of proper incentives and the promotion of information
exposure and collaboration so as to achieve a win-win situation.
In particular, UCs related to EFS are driven by a collaborative traffic management approach
with a direct involvement of end-users and their resources. Thus, these EFS UCs investigated provide improved QoE and energy efficiency for the end-user, especially via an intelligent placement and movement of content and services in an energy and socially aware
manner, whilst the interest of ISPs in traffic management and costs is integrated.
The investigation undertaken so far was focused clearly on the three aspects of interest: (a)
caching of video content, (b) prefetching of video content, and (c) energy savings of offloading techniques. Those three aspects are enabled in a combined approach by SmartenITs traffic management mechanisms RB-HORST and SEConD, which deliver in a
stand-alone and in a full-fledged deployment a good energy efficiency, advanced services
and resource management functionality, an increased agility and performance, and they
determine useful means for new differentiated services and terminal operations.
The SmartenITs solution and full exploitation potential also foresees a wider impact over
actual business models, as enhancements of business models and interactions, for
SmartenIT White Paper EFS


example, in the case of the Fon Company (Wireless service provider), are driven by the
operators business model, which takes advantage of the end-user equipment and expands
its coverage areas. In the same sense, but apart from connectivity, other resources like
computation and storage already being present at edges of an ISPs domain (i.e. within the
customers premises) can be embedded and used. Therefore, a new and relevant business
model includes the cloudlets business case. While cloudlets are decentralized and a
widely-dispersed Internet infrastructure, their compute and storage resources can
leveraged on nearby mobile computers, in the form of a data center in a box.
The focus of SmartenITs EFS traffic management mechanisms, Nano Data Centers, and
end-user equipment is well positioned within this emerging business context of optimized
service delivery and energy efficient operations.


Autonomous System


Content Delivery Network


Cloud Service Provider


End-user Focused Scenario


Global Positioning System


Internet Service Provider


Least Recently Used


Nano Data Center


Operator Focused Scenario


Online Social Network






Replicating Balanced Home Router Sharing based on Trust


Socially-aware Mechanism for Efficient Content Delivery


Service Level Agreement


Social Proxy Server


Service Set Identifier


Transmission Control Protocol


User-owned Nano Data Center


Uniform Resource Locator


United States of America




3rd Generation

SmartenIT White Paper EFS


The SmartenIT Consortium

University of Zrich, UZH, Switzerland
Athens University of Economics and Business - Research Center, AUEB-RC, Greece
Julius-Maximilians Universitt Wrzburg, UniWue, Germany
Technische Universitt Darmstadt, TUD, Germany
Akademia Gorniczo-Hutnicza im. Stanislawa Staszica w Krakowie, AGH, Poland
Intracom S.A. Telecom Solutions, ICOM, Greece
Alcatel Lucent Bell Labs, ALBLF, France
Instytut Chemii Bioorganiicznej Pan, PSNC, Poland
Interroute S.P.A, IRT, Italy
Telkom Deutschland GmbH, TDG, Germany

Copyright 2015, the Members of the SmartenIT Consortium

For more information on this document or the SmartenIT project, please contact:
Prof. Dr. Burkhard Stiller
Universitt Zrich, CSG@IFI
Binzmhlestrasse 14
CH8050 Zrich
Phone: +41 44 635 4331
Fax: +41 44 635 6809

Mr. Matteo Biancani

Enterprise Sales Director, Cloud Infrastructure Sales
Interoute S.P.A.
Via Cornelia, 498, Roma RM
Phone: +39 06 615 2401
Fax: + +39 06 6152 40 99

Further information on SmartenIT and its traffic management mechanisms as well as its
prototypes and results achieved can be found in the two sections Overview and Publications of the projects home page

SmartenIT White Paper EFS


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