On the Relationship Between File Sizes, Transport Protocols, and Self-Similar Network Traffic
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Citation (published version)Park, Kihong; Kim, Gitae; Crovella, Mark. "On the relationship between file sizes, transport protocols, and self-similar network traffic", Technical Report BUCS-1996-016, Computer Science Department, Boston University, July 30, 1996. [Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/2144/1592]
Recent measurements of local-area and wide-area traffic have shown that network traffic exhibits variability at a wide range of scales self-similarity. In this paper, we examine a mechanism that gives rise to self-similar network traffic and present some of its performance implications. The mechanism we study is the transfer of files or messages whose size is drawn from a heavy-tailed distribution. We examine its effects through detailed transport-level simulations of multiple TCP streams in an internetwork. First, we show that in a "realistic" client/server network environment i.e., one with bounded resources and coupling among traffic sources competing for resources the degree to which file sizes are heavy-tailed can directly determine the degree of traffic self-similarity at the link level. We show that this causal relationship is not significantly affected by changes in network resources (bottleneck bandwidth and buffer capacity), network topology, the influence of cross-traffic, or the distribution of interarrival times. Second, we show that properties of the transport layer play an important role in preserving and modulating this relationship. In particular, the reliable transmission and flow control mechanisms of TCP (Reno, Tahoe, or Vegas) serve to maintain the long-range dependency structure induced by heavy-tailed file size distributions. In contrast, if a non-flow-controlled and unreliable (UDP-based) transport protocol is used, the resulting traffic shows little self-similar characteristics: although still bursty at short time scales, it has little long-range dependence. If flow-controlled, unreliable transport is employed, the degree of traffic self-similarity is positively correlated with the degree of throttling at the source. Third, in exploring the relationship between file sizes, transport protocols, and self-similarity, we are also able to show some of the performance implications of self-similarity. We present data on the relationship between traffic self-similarity and network performance as captured by performance measures including packet loss rate, retransmission rate, and queueing delay. Increased self-similarity, as expected, results in degradation of performance. Queueing delay, in particular, exhibits a drastic increase with increasing self-similarity. Throughput-related measures such as packet loss and retransmission rate, however, increase only gradually with increasing traffic self-similarity as long as reliable, flow-controlled transport protocol is used.