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Academicians Seek Better Cloud-Based Mobile App Storage

Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York are trying to improve how mobile devices save data to the cloud.

Their approach involves optimizing storage requests to improve device and network performance and save battery life.

"Storage and computing power is limited on mobile devices, making it necessity to store data in the cloud," Binghamton University said in a news release today. "However, with the myriad of apps from a myriad of developers that use the cloud, the user experience isn’t always smooth. Battery life can be taxed due to extended synchronization times and clogged networks when multiple apps are trying to access the cloud all at the same time."

So far, the research effort has resulted in a service, called StoArranger, to act as middleware to optimize storage processes, though it isn't commercially available yet. Further research is expected to be done and presented in a full academic paper following the presentation of an initial paper at a recent conference in Hong Kong.

"We may be using many different apps developed by different developers that make use of cloud storage services, whereas on PCs we tend to use apps offered by the official providers," Yifin Zhang, assistant professor of computer science at Binghamton University’s Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, said in the news release. "This app and developer diversity can cause problems due to a developer's inexperience and/or carelessness."

"Zhang and a team of Binghamton University researchers designed and developed StoArranger, a service to intercept, coordinate and optimize requests made by mobile apps and cloud storage services," the release continues. "StoArranger works as a 'middleware system,' so there is no change to how apps or an iPhone or Android device run, just improved performance of both the device and the network overall. Essentially, StoArranger takes cloud storage requests -- either to upload a file or to open a file for editing -- and orders them in the best way to save power, get things completed as quickly as possible and minimize the amount of data used to complete the tasks."

The project is explained in the abstract for the paper recently presented in Hong Kong, titled Improving Cloud Storage Usage Experience for Mobile Applications:

Cloud storage services are becoming increasingly popular in mobile apps. Through comprehensive real app studies, we reveal that many mobile apps making use of cloud storage services provide poor usage experience, such as unnecessary energy consumption, extended synchronization response time, and redundant network traffic. The root cause of these problems stems from the way that current commercial cloud storage providers choose to deploy their services to mobile platforms: in order to have fast and easy deployment, they totally avoid client-side system-level file operation monitoring and servicing, which has been an essential part of the successfulness of traditional distributed file systems, and leave the implementation of the important client-side operations like caching, consistency assurance totally to mobile app developers. We propose StoArranger, a user-space system-wide service aiming to improve cloud storage usage experience for exiting mobile applications. We briefly present the design, the associated challenges, and our ongoing implementation of StoArranger.

Binghamton University said the researchers plan on developing an app for public use, as the work so far is "only a promising first step in the development of StoArranger."

About the Author

David Ramel is editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine and Application Development Trends Magazine.

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