Internet Servers Doing the Buzz Shuffle
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What do bees and disco dancing have to do with web hosting? Well, you might be surprised to find out that some of the things learned in the field of biology have applications to engineering and modern technology. Indeed, some of the lessons learned can be used to solve a number of problems that make people pull their hair out as they wait for web pages to load.
Whenever I surf the web and my connection is really slow, I can't help but wonder, “what's the holdup?” No doubt it's probably one of them newfangled Internet servers with their reconfigurations, orchestrations, and calibrations. Hooey! It's times like these I just want to disconnect, put on some Kool and the Gang, and dance, dance, dance. Get down on it, get down on it...
Don't worry, the disco reference will make sense eventually, I promise. But for now let's make a seamless transition into one of my favorite subjects, bees! What's not to love; they work mindlessly to serve an all powerful queen and they couldn't be more friendly. Just ask the kid with his head swollen to the size of a watermelon. That respirator sure looks fun, Billy. Only we're here to talk about web hosting. And what do bees have to do with web hosting?
Ay-ay-ay, Señor Ding-Dong dice el néctar no es bueno!
Well, Billy, that's where biomimetics comes into play. Biomimetics is the study of how the principles of biology and nature can be applied to engineering and modern technology. Recently, bees have been in the forefront of biomimetics research, particularly the honey bee colony and how it operates. Scientists have termed this particular study “bee colony optimization.” It is being used to solve several problems, such as Internet server optimization, continuous optimization, the traveling salesman problem, and job shop scheduling problems, among others.
They all fall back on what's known as the “bees algorithm,” which is based on the nectar foraging techniques of honey bees. At its most basic level, it works like this: every known possible solution is treated as a food source. Simulation agents act like “scout bees” and test the solutions, relaying their quality back to the other agents. These agents then search for the highest ranking solutions, ultimately determining which is the “point of maximum fitness function.”If this analogy seems a little hazy right now, I will elaborate further in my discussion of the waggle dance. Gasp! It's all starting to come together.
The remainder of this article will explore the specific way bee colony optimization is being used to solve the Internet server optimization problem. Studies have shown that a bee colony's task of finding the best way to gather nectar for the rest of the hive is very similar to how a web hosting company is responsible for orchestrating its servers to maximize traffic flow and revenue from hosting fees. Developers have come up with something similar to the bees algorithm that has shown effective results so far.
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