SPAND: Shared Passive Network Performance Discovery

Abstract: 

In the Internet today, users and applications must often make decisions based on the performance they expect to receive from other Internet hosts. For example, users can often view many Web pages in low-bandwidth or high-bandwidth versions, while other pages present users with long lists of mirror sites to chose from. Current techniques to perform these decisions are often ad hoc or poorly designed. The most common solution used today is to require the user to manually make decisions based on their own experience and whatever information is provided by the application. Previous efforts to automate this decision-making process have relied on isolated, active network probes from a host. Unfortunately, this method of making measurements has several problems. Active probing introduces unnecessary network traffic that can quickly become a significant part of the total traffic handled by busy Web servers. Probing from a single host results in less accurate information and more redundant network probes than a system that shares information with nearby hosts. In this paper, we propose a system called SPAND (Shared Passive Network Performance Discovery) that determines network characteristics by making shared, passive measurements from a collection of hosts. In this paper, we show why using passive measurements from a collection of hosts has advantages over using active measurements from a single host. We also show that sharing measurements can significantly increase the accuracy and timeliness of predictions. In addition, we present a initial prototype design of SPAND, the current implementation status of our system, and initial performance results that show the potential benefits of SPAND.