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Cloud computing offers on-demand access to large-scale computing resources in a pay-as-you go manner. Market-based resource allocation mechanisms are gaining popularity among commercial cloud providers to deal with dynamically fluctuating resource demands. For example, the recently introduced Amazon EC2 spot instances allow users to bid for computing resources and thus control the cost vs. reliability trade-offs of their workloads. Although this promises significant cost reduction, it comes at an additional risk of price fluctuation. This will get worse as cloud computing gradually moves towards a free market system. The authors propose a novel approach that utilizes financial option theory to simultaneously mitigate risk and minimize cost for cloud users.
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