Understanding the Efficiency of Multi-Server Service Systems
In the design and operation of service systems, it is important to determine an appropriate level of server utilization (the proportion of time each server should be working). In a multi-server queue with unlimited waiting space, the appropriate server utilization typically increases as the number of servers (and the arrival rate) increases. We explain this economy of scale and give a rough quantitative characterization. We also show how increased variability in the arrival and service processes tends to reduce server utilization with a given grade of service. As part of this analysis, we develop simple approximations for the mean steady-state waiting time and the full steady-state waiting-time distribution. These approximations exploit an infinite-server approximation for the probability of delay and a single-server approximation for the conditional waiting-time distribution given that waiting occurs. The emphasis is on simple formulas that directly convey understanding.
Volume (Year): 38 (1992)
Issue (Month): 5 (May)
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