Virtual CDN Providers: Profit Maximization through Collaboration

The proliferation of mobile devices with ubiquitous Internet access has made content access patterns highly volatile and spatio- temporally varying. At the same time, virtualization techniques have enabled the emergence of virtual Content Delivery Network (vCDN) providers, that bundle together a virtual infrastructure by utilizing storage resources anywhere along the path between the access network and the corresponding data center, where the requested content actually resides. In this context, efficient content placement in the various storage layers depends on accurately estimating content access patterns from the different access networks at any given time. At the same time, different vCDN providers compete against each other to provide low content retrieval latency to their users. However, there are some interesting synergies that might emerge among otherwise competing vCDN providers: (i) host content of another vCDN provider and, (ii) provide own content to the users/customers of other vCDN providers. In this paper, we formulate the overall problem of content placement for multiple vCDN providers that employ collaboration as an overall social-welfare maximization problem. The solution to this problem gives the optimal placement, achievable only in the case of full information. Alleviating the need for full information and considering vCDN providers separately as profit seekers, we also devise a distributed algorithm for content placement by exchanging limited information among them. Extensive simulation experiments show that business collaboration among competing vCDN providers is beneficial, as compared to isolated offerings, and allows them to adapt faster to content pattern changes.

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