Efficient policies for carrying web traffic over flow-switched networks

Anja Feldmann, Jennifer L. Rexford, Ramón Cáceres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


To efficiently transfer diverse traffic over high-speed links, modern integrated networks require more efficient packet-switching techniques that can capitalize on recent advances in switch hardware. Several promising approaches attempt to improve performance by creating dedicated "shortcut" connections for long-lived traffic flows, at the expense of the network overhead for establishing and maintaining these shortcuts. The network can balance these cost-performance tradeoffs through three tunable parameters: the granularity of flow end-point addresses, the timeout for grouping related packets into flows, and the trigger for migrating a long-lived flow to a shortcut connection. Drawing on a continuous one-week trace of Internet traffic, we evaluate the processor and switch overheads for transferring HTTP server traffic through a flow-switched network. In contrast to previous work, we focus on the full probability distributions of flow sizes and cost-performance metrics to highlight the subtle influence of the HTTP protocol and user behavior on the performance of flow switching. We find that moderate levels of aggregation and triggering yield significant reductions in overhead with a negligible reduction in performance. The traffic characterization results further suggest schemes for limiting shortcut overhead by temporarily delaying the creation of shortcuts during peak load and by aggregating related packets that share a portion of their routes through the network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-685
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • HTTP protocol
  • IP flows
  • Internet traffic characterization
  • Routing
  • Signaling
  • Switching


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