MLOS: An Infrastructure for Automated Software Performance Engineering

DEEM 2020 |

Developing modern systems software is a complex task that combines business logic programming and Software Performance Engineering (SPE). The later is an experimental and labor-intensive activity focused on optimizing the system for a given hardware, software, and workload (hw/sw/wl) context.

Today’s SPE is performed during build/release phases by specialized teams, and cursed by: 1) lack of standardized and automated tools, 2) significant repeated work as hw/sw/wl context changes, 3) fragility induced by a “one-size-fit-all” tuning (where improvements on one workload or component may impact others). The net result: despite costly investments, system software is often outside its optimal operating point – anecdotally leaving 30% to 40% of performance on the table.

The recent developments in Data Science (DS) hints at an opportunity: combining DS tooling and methodologies with a new developer experience to transform the practice of SPE. In this paper we present: MLOS, an ML-powered infrastructure and methodology to democratize and automate Software Performance Engineering. MLOS enables continuous, instance-level, robust, and trackable systems optimization. MLOS is being developed and employed within Microsoft to optimize SQL Server performance. Early results indicated that component-level optimizations can lead to 20%-90% improvements when custom-tuning for a specific hw/sw/wl, hinting at a significant opportunity. However, several research challenges remain that will require community involvement. To this end, we are in the process of open-sourcing the MLOS core infrastructure, and we are engaging with academic institutions to create an educational program around Software 2.0 and MLOS ideas.