Rethinking Timekeeping for Modern IT Solutions

Son VoBa, Charles L. Ulland, Michael A. Lombardi, Arno Lentfer

Abstract: Advances in processor performance and virtualization technologies, together with complexities of operating systems (OS) and software defined networking, have outpaced legacy network-based solutions for keeping system clocks accurate across geographic locations—in cloud-space and onpremises. Computer time accuracy with respect to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is now being codified and enforced by recently adopted regulatory requirements in the financial services sector for governance, risk mitigation, and demonstration of compliance. These factors necessitate a rethinking of timekeeping for modern IT solutions. In this paper, we describe our technical approach to making UTC-accurate computer system clock a fundamental platform capability that is independent from other OS subsystems such as networking. We will also share a series of lessons learnt from building industry standard hardware interfaces to keep generalpurpose computing platforms and their virtual machines UTC-accurate, and from our collaboration with industry partners Microsoft and selected server vendors to implement traceability to UTC via the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for modern IT solutions. We will conclude with our thoughts on how the full complement of Global Positioning System (GPS) positioning data in addition to accurate timekeeping would further benefit IT solutions of the future.
Published in: Proceedings of the 50th Annual Precise Time and Time Interval Systems and Applications Meeting
January 28 - 31, 2019
Hyatt Regency Reston
Reston, Virginia
Pages: 374 - 397
Cite this article: VoBa, Son, Ulland, Charles L., Lombardi, Michael A., Lentfer, Arno, "Rethinking Timekeeping for Modern IT Solutions," Proceedings of the 50th Annual Precise Time and Time Interval Systems and Applications Meeting, Reston, Virginia, January 2019, pp. 374-397.
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