The steady decline of IP transit prices in the past two decades has helped fuel the growth of traffic demands in the Internet ecosystem. Despite the declining unit pricing, bandwidth costs remain significant due to ever-increasing scale and reach of the Internet, combined with the price disparity between the Internet’s core hubs versus remote regions. In the meantime, cloud providers have been auctioning underutilized computing resources in their marketplace as spot instances for a much lower price, compared to their on-demand instances. This state of affairs has led the networking community to devote extensive efforts to cloud-assisted networks — the idea of offloading network functionality to cloud platforms, ultimately leading to more flexible and highly composable network service chains.
We initiate a critical discussion on the economic and technological aspects of leveraging cloud-assisted networks for Internet-scale interconnections and data transfers. Namely, we investigate the prospect of constructing a large-scale virtualized network provider that does not own any fixed or dedicated resources and runs atop several spot instances. We design a framework that leverages third-party cloud spot instances to construct a cloud-assisted overlay. We identify three use case scenarios where such approach will not only be economically and technologically viable but also provide performance benefits compared to current commercial offerings of connectivity and transit providers.