Harnessing TCPs Burstiness using Flowlet Switching

Shan Sinha, Srikanth Kandula, and Dina Katabi

Abstract

TCP's burstiness is usually regarded as harmful, or at best, inconvenient. This paper adopts a new perspective and examines whether TCP's burstiness is useful for certain applications. It shows that the burstiness can be harnessed to make TCP more robust to packet reordering caused by route change. We define a flowlet as a burst of packets from the same flow followed by an idle interval. We develop a scheme that uses flowlets to split traffic across multiple parallel paths. We show that flowlet switching is an ideal technique for load balancing traffic across multiple paths as it has the accuracy of packet switching, combined with the robustness of flow switching to packet reordering. The accuracy, simplicity, and low-overhead of flowlet switching makes it a strong candidate for replacing the current hash-based schemes used in routers for splitting traffic across multiple links. Further, flowlet switching accurately splits traffic across various paths even when their desired traffic shares vary over time, providing a key component for research in the areas of adaptive multipath routing, adaptive multihoming, and traffic engineering.

Details

Publication typeInproceedings
Published inHotNets Workshop
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc.
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