Feeds

Bumblebee boogie analysis in webserver boost

Drone dancefloor plan is the proverbial insect limb joint

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Researchers in Georgia, USA, reckon they can increase the efficiency of web servers by mimicking the methods used by honey bees to collect nectar.

It seems that the new hive-mind technology was the brainchild of Professor Craig Tovey of the Georgia Institute of Technology (GIT).

“I studied bees for years, waiting for the right application,” Tovey said. “You have to look for a close analogy between two systems — never a superficial one... this definitely fit the bill.”

By lucky hap, Tovey's years of avid bee-watching paid off during a discussion with Sunil Nakrani of the Oxford computer-science department. Tovey and Nakrani realised that the task of serving web pages was uncannily similar to that of sucking sugar out of flowers.

More specifically, it was the bees' internal organisation that held useful lessons for servers. Bees have no central command or leadership (the "queen" is mainly concerned with laying eggs rather than directing the nectar harvest). Rather, the cunning insect workers pass information to each other by doing complicated little dances in the hive.

Bees coming back from a rich patch of nectar let their buddies know about it, and more bees pile in to the relevant flowers until all the sticky goodness is gone. The last few bees coming back tell everyone that the patch is worked out, and resources go elsewhere.

Tovey and Nakrani set to work at GIT to develop a "dancefloor" for servers, assigning resources to sites in the same way as bees deal with flowers. In their research, published in Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, they claim that "the honeybee method typically improves service by 4 percent to 25 percent in tests based on real Internet traffic."

The main question raised by all this, of course, is what happens to biomimetics researchers who study the wrong kind of animals and never develop a useful application? Presumably there are people out there furiously boning up on weasels, fruitbats, plankton etc, hoping ever more desperately as the years go by that some kind of robotics or computing analogy will present itself, only to eventually retire and die disappointed.

Perhaps we need some kind of bee-style way of assigning biomimetics researchers more efficiently. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Sysadmin Day 2014: Quick, there's still time to get the beers in
He walked over the broken glass, killed the thugs... and er... reconnected the cables*
Multipath TCP speeds up the internet so much that security breaks
Black Hat research says proposed protocol will bork network probes, flummox firewalls
VMware builds product executables on 50 Mac Minis
And goes to the Genius Bar for support
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Microsoft's Euro cloud darkens: US FEDS can dig into foreign servers
They're not emails, they're business records, says court
Microsoft says 'weird things' can happen during Windows Server 2003 migrations
Fix coming for bug that makes Kerberos croak when you run two domain controllers
Cisco says network virtualisation won't pay off everywhere
Another sign of strain in the Borg/VMware relationship?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.