Peer to peer networking: Main aspects and conclusions from the view of Internet service providers

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1 Peer to peer networking: Main aspects and conclusions from the view of Internet service providers Gerhard Haßlinger, Department of Computer Science, Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany Abstract: - Peer to peer applications presently contribute the main part to the traffic volume on broadband access platforms to the Internet. The underlying distributed file sharing systems and data exchange protocols supports new service types to be integrated in IP networks. This paper investigates the traffic profiles and implications of peer to peer applications for resource efficiency, monitoring, control and quality of service on the network layer of service provider platforms. Key-Words: - Peer to peer networking, effect on traffic profiles and quality of service, resource efficiency, monitoring, routing 1 Introduction In addition to the client server architecture, peer to peer networks have established an alternative concept for the distribution of information and data, which has become popular within a few month after Napster made a data exchange protocol available on the Internet for music files. Meanwhile a variety of peer to peer protocols contribute the major portion of the Internet traffic by exchange of video and other data and are a main driver of a recent steep increase in traffic volumes over broadband access platforms. Figure 1 shows a representative measurement of components in the present Internet traffic mix, which depends on the portion of broadband access users. Those figures are also varying in a daily traffic profile, where e.g. web browsing (HTTP) is more relevant in heavy traffic hours than throughout the night time [7][8][10][11]. Besides file sharing, the peer to peer principle supports distributed computation with a balanced utilization of vacant resources including bandwidth in access networks. Communication in peer to peer networks restrict server tasks to the support of the search for data in the network or they work completely distributed without central servers as e.g. the Gnutella network. The download phase following a successful search is always organized between peers. Initial versions of peer to peer protocols are often subjected to a large messaging overhead, which amounts to e.g. 6 kbit/s per connection according to measurement in the Gnutella network [9]. Protocols for large peer to peer networks with several million active nodes obviously have reduced the overhead and improved scalability. Nevertheless, a significant messaging overhead often remains. The data search and selection of sources for downloading establishes routing mechanisms on the application layer, which are usually independent of the routing on the IP network layer. The distribution of data over the peer to peer network and the match of routing strategies on different layers is decisive for an efficient bandwidth utilization in IP platforms. This is a precondition for a good data throughput and thus for the success of the peer to peer protocol and in addition has to be optimized by the service providers. On the other hand, the diversity and variability of peer to peer protocols makes it difficult to monitor or control their traffic [8]. In section 2 we start with a closer look at peer to peer traffic profiles, followed by implications of the up- and download symmetry and the application layer routing in sections 3 and 4. Monitoring and possible caching of peer to peer traffic is discussed in sections 5 and finally the consequences on the quality of service and the prediction of future traffic development are addressed in sections 6 and 7. 2 Peer to peer traffic characteristics Peer to peer applications generate a large traffic volume with downloads of video files of several Gigabyte size as the main driver of long lasting background file transfers % Peer-to-Peer networking & data exchange 10-20% HTTP 15-25% other TCP < 5% UDP Figure 1: Typical composition of the main components of present Internet traffic

2 Despite the increasing volume, peer to peer applications have an overall smoothing effect on traffic profiles as compared to client server architectures: The daily traffic profiles in broadband access platforms typically show busy hours of high activity in the day or in the evening time. For peer to peer traffic, the ratio of the peak to the mean rate is smaller than 1.5 owing to background transfers which often last during the night time, whereas web browsing and many other applications have ratios larger than 2 from the peak to the mean. Thus the long lasting downloads have a smoothing effect on the periodical changes of data transfer activity. There are less hot spots in peer to peer applications than in client server based architectures. For the search phase, this depends on the level of distributed versus server based computing of the peer to peer protocol, whereas the download phases run completely distributed among the nodes. While spontaneous hot spot accesses from many clients to a server can lead to bottlenecks, the hot spot data is soon replicated and afterwards downloaded from many nodes in a peer to peer network. Most of the peer to peer source traffic originates from subscribers with a limited access rate especially for uploads. The upload speed is below 128kbit/s even in most broadband access lines. Then the burstiness of traffic on aggregation links is reduced in short and medium time scales, since statistical multiplexing has a smoothing effect on the variability of the traffic rate. When the user population and thus the number of sessions in parallel is constant and transfer activities in the sessions are independent of each other, then the central limit theorem is applicable to the rate statistics of aggregated traffic being composed of a large number of small and independent flows. Remote access routers often aggregate the traffic of several thousand users at the boundary of IP platforms. As a consequence, the coefficient of variation, i.e. the ratio of the variance to the square of the mean, becomes smaller with the level of aggregation and the traffic rate approaches a Gaussian distribution. Simple link dimensioning rules are available for Gaussian traffic with regard to quality of service aspects [4][5]. 3 Relation of uploads and downloads Peer to peer traffic is symmetrical in up- and downstream direction when comparable nodes are involved as source and destination of a transfer. Since most users are interested in downloading files at first, the peer to peer protocols have to take care of a balanced transfer in both directions. The protocols with widespread usage start to upload data from a node immediately after it has been downloaded as soon as data chunks are available on the application layer. Moreover, they enforce a give and take policy for each participant such that users with a higher upload volume are preferred when they are requesting downloads. On the other hand, broadband access lines are usually asymmetrical with an essentially smaller upstream rate e.g. 128kbit/s 768 kbit/s for ADSL access as offered by Deutsche Telekom. Therefore the upstream capacity in broadband access platforms becomes a bottleneck for peer to peer applications. In measurement of upstream traffic the peer to peer portion is even more prevalent with up to 90% than on backbone links as in figure 1 or downstream. Symmetrical access lines would be more appropriate for peer to peer data exchange, but if service providers would replace ADSL lines with symmetrical DSL at comparable speed, i.e. 448kbit/s 448 kbit/s instead of 128kbit/s 768 kbit/s, then peer to peer traffic can be expected to increase with the upstream speed. This shows that enforcing a close relation between up- and download volume of each user is essential in order to achieve a high throughput of peer to peer traffic on broadband IP platforms. 4 Routing on application layer Peer to peer networks establish their own routing on the application layer. Different routing principles are in use with consequences for the efficiency and scalability. Earlier versions of the Gnutella network simply forwarded broadcast search requests to all neighbours within a limited distance measured by the hop count, i.e. the number of intermediate nodes. In this way a large amount of messages are exchanged for each search, which imposed restrictions on the Gnutella network scalability [9]. Presently, peer to peer protocols often introduce hierarchically structured search nodes to reduce the overhead together with functions known from IP routing like hello messages to confirm connectivity to the peers. Nevertheless, a significant messaging

3 overhead can be observed in large peer to peer networks. The implementation of two independent routing layers causes inefficiency at the extend of the mismatch between different underlying network structures. 5 Monitoring and analysis of peer to peer applications Monitoring and analysis of peer to peer traffic is essential for Internet service providers in order to determine the components of the traffic mix, which may indicate shifts and trends in the usage of applications, to estimate the overhead in peer to peer messaging, to analyze the peer to peer network structure and transmission paths to be compared to the routing on the network layer. 5.1 Monitoring on network & transport layer The components of traffic can be analyzed on the network and transport layer by evaluating information in the header of the IP and TCP packets, i.e. IP addresses, TCP ports and information about the TCP signaling and connection status. Peer to peer protocols are often associated with a standard port or a range of specific ports, which allow to recognize them on the transport layer. When the search phase relies on a small set of servers then the corresponding requests can be traced by an analysis of IP addresses. The analysis on this layer is supported by sampling mechanisms provided by the router equipment and can be performed at line speed even on backbone links. However, most widely used peer to peer protocols can be configured to use any arbitrary TCP port and thus an essential part of peer to peer traffic cannot be categorized on this layer, which runs over nonstandard TCP ports or even standard ports of other applications. In recent time, the portion of unknown TCP ports is increasing on transport layer statistics, as can be observed e.g. in the Internet2 NetFlow statistics [6]. 5.2 Application layer analysis To get better insight into peer to peer traffic components, application level analysis is necessary which also inspects the payload of transmitted packets. Depending on the protocol, patterns can be recognized, which indicate data transmitted in peer to peer search phases or the initiation of data exchanges. Afterwards they can be traced at the transport layer until the termination of a corresponding TCP connection. The analysis on this layer is complex and cannot be performed permanently for the complete traffic on high speed links. Recognition pattern have to be found for each relevant peer to peer protocol and, in addition, the analysis has to be updated whenever new protocols or new variants of existing protocols emerge. Although there are approaches for the analysis of several currently used protocols [8], a complete classification of peer to peer traffic remains difficult since some protocols have developed techniques to disguise their purpose also on the application layer, e.g Freenet [2]. Besides the analysis of the components of complete data flows, another approach of application layer analysis has been carried out by crawling into peer to peer protocols [10]. Therefore a node is inserted into a peer to peer network, which can collect data about the connectivity and structure of the network as well as the status of other nodes. 5.3 Caches Web caches provide an opportunity to optimize traffic flows. Usual web caches do not apply to peer to peer traffic and have become inefficient. On the other hand, caches can be set up especially for peer to peer traffic. Therefore they act as a node within a peer to peer network, which stores a large amount of data. Web caches are not intended to play an active role in peer to peer networks. They should represent a transparent proxy to shorten transmission paths to distinct nodes, but should not be directly addressed as a peer to peer network nodes. When a download is requested for some data chunk available in the cache, then the cache can respond instead of another source, which has been selected in the search phase. For transparency, the data should be transferred as if it would originate from the selected source with regard to the IP addresses, the upstream access bandwidth of the source, possible changes in the status of the source, e.g. accounting to balance up- and download volume of peer to peer network nodes. A data transfer from the cache usually will have shorter transmission delay and will not be able to

4 match the available upstream rate of the original source, including time varying bottlenecks on the transmission path beyond the cache. But at least the online availability and the access speed of the original source should be taken into account. In fact, the upload capacity of the caches substitute a part of the upload capacity of nodes in the peer to peer network with consequences for the total data throughput. In this way, caches for peer to peer traffic have to be adapted for each protocol in use and do not reduce messaging overhead in the search phase. The efficiency of caches depends on the source selection by the peer to peer protocol. In principle, unnecessary load on backbone and expensive international links can be avoided by the application protocol, if one of the nearest sources in terms of the IP routing distance is preferred. But a proper distribution of the data with regard to the underlying IP network is only a secondary focus of peer to peer protocols. 7 Implications for quality of service The Internet has developed from data transfer applications to a service integrating platform with steadily increasing variety of service types including file transfer, , web browsing, voice over IP, peer to peer data exchange etc. Each service type has its specific quality of service (QoS) demands regarding the required bandwidth, the transmission time e.g. real time constraints, as well as tolerance for transmission errors and failure situations. Peer to peer data exchange is usually of the best effort service type without strict QoS demands. Often a download may run for several hours or days in the background. Although shorter transfers or even real time transmissions would be desirable, users are aware that affordable tariffs in a mass market impose access bandwidth limitations such that video files require considerable transfer time even with broadband access. On the other hand, the impact of peer to peer traffic on other services has to be taken into account. The present traffic profile in IP networks with a dominant peer to peer traffic portion of best effort type suggests that the differentiated services architecture [1] is sufficient as a simple scheme to support QoS by introducing traffic classes to be handled with different priority. If no more than 20% of the delivered traffic has strict QoS requirements including voice over IP and virtual private networks (VPN), then sufficient QoS can be guaranteed for those traffic types by strict forwarding prioritiy. Even applications like web browsing and can be included in a 20% portion of traffic with most serious requirements. When the network is dimensioned for an essentially larger traffic volume than generated only by the preferred traffic classes, then they will not suffer from bottlenecks and queueing delay in normal operation whereas, vice versa, the impact of a small premium traffic portion on the peer to peer traffic is moderate. In addition, the delivery for premium traffic classes can even be assured in some failure situations, e.g. for single link breakdowns, provided that restoration links are available in an appropriate network design. Since overload may occur on those links, the best effort traffic will then often be affected. Nowadays peer to peer protocols can cope with temporal disconnections on the application layer and recover transmission from the previous state afterwards. When file transfers via FTP or HTTP protocols are interrupted, an essential part of the transmission is often lost and a complete restart is required. Since a segmentation and reassembly of large data files into small chunks is included on the application layer of peer to peer protocols, an improved reliability and efficiency of transfers is achieved, which is valuable especially for nonassured QoS of best effort transmission. As pointed out in section 5, it is difficult to classify peer to peer traffic and virtually impossible to clearly distinguish it from other traffic on the network and transport layer. A treatment with lower priority based on TCP port numbers will increase the tendency to disguise peer to peer applications by using randomly chosen ports for unknown protocols or by transporting peer to peer data exchange e.g. over the HTTP port for web browsing. Therefore the only efficient way to classify traffic seems to be a declaration and marking of premium traffic with strict quality of service requirements by the users himself or by an originating server, which will be accepted on service provider platforms in combination with a corresponding tariff scheme. 7 Uncertain prediction of Internet traffic For the future development there are requirements for larger bandwidths in telecommunication networks, but especially the role of peer to peer networking is difficult to predict. Most video files are currently represented using MPEG compression. In order to achieve an opti-

5 mum resolution e.g. in HDTV (High definition television) quality together with coding schemes without loss of information, an essentially larger data volume has to be transmitted. Thus improved quality for video and other broadband applications will continue to demand for larger bandwidths. With regard to peer to peer applications, the illegitimate usage of copyright protected content and the future effect of countermeasures are unknown factors of influence. On the other hand, it cannot be foreseen whether and when video streaming and downloads will be offered over client server architectures via Internet at acceptable conditions for mass market, which then may satisfy at least a part of the requirements of the present peer to peer users. In addition, scalability, security including reliability against denial of service attacks and other aspects seem not to be handled with much care by current peer to peer protocols. Nevertheless, peer to peer networking has established a new principle for the distribution of information and content, which is more efficient than the client server communication for many applications. Conclusion Despite of increasing the traffic volume on the Internet, peer to peer traffic profiles on broadband platforms have a smoothing effect on the variability of the traffic rate in short and medium time scales and hot spots as compared to most other traffic types. They contribute a continuous load of long lasting background file transfers. While these properties partly facilitate the network dimensioning and planning for service providers, monitoring, analysis and control of the peer to peer components and the prediction of their future development is difficult and requires further investigation. The present traffic mix with a dominant portion of best effort type data exchanges in the background has implications for the quality of service concept, suggesting that differentiated services [1] are sufficient to support other traffic types which generate smaller traffic volume. This could even include applications like web browsing, if a clear classification of service types would be possible. [2] I. Clarke, S. Miller, T. Hong, O. Sandberg and B. Wiley, Protecting free expression online with Freenet, IEEE Internet Computing, Special issue on peer to peer networking (2002) [3] MPEG (Moving pictures expert group) standardization, [4] F. Hartleb and G. Haßlinger, Comparison of link dimensioning methods for TCP/IP networks, Proc. IEEE GLOBECOM, (2001) [5] G. Haßlinger, Quality-of-service analysis for statistical multiplexing with Gaussian and autoregressive input modeling, Telecommunication Systems 16 (2001) [6] Internet2 netflow statistics, weekly reports, netflow.internet2.edu ( ) [7] B. Krishnamurthy and J. Wang, Traffic classification for application specific peering, Proceedings of ACM SIGCOMM Internet Measurement Workshop, Marseille, France (2002) [8] H. de Meer, K. Tutschku and P. Tran-Gia, Dynamic operation in peer-to-peer overlay networks, PIK Journal (2003) [9] M. Ripeanu and A. Iamnitchi, Mapping the Gnutella network, IEEE Internet Computing, Special issue on peer to peer networking (2002) [10] S. Saroiu, K. Gummadi and S. Gribble, A Measurement Study of Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Systems, Proceedings of Multimedia Computing and Networking, San Jose, CA, USA (2002) [11] S. Sen and J. Wang, Analyzing Peer-to-Peer Traffic Across Large Networks, Proceedings of ACM SIG- COMM Internet Measurement Workshop, Marseille, France (2002) extended version to appear in ACM/IEEE Transactions on Networking References [1] M. Carlson, W. Weiss, S. Blake, Z. Wang, D. Black and E. Davies, An Architecture for Differentiated Services, RFC 2475 (1998)

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