Overlay networks among cooperating hosts have recently emerged as a viable solution to several challenging problems, including multicasting, routing, content distribution, and peer-to-peer services. Application-level overlays, however, incur a performance penalty over router-level solutions. This paper quantifies and explains this performance penalty for overlay multicast trees via (i) Internet experimental data, (ii) simulations, and (iii) theoretical models. We compare a number of overlay multicast protocols with respect to overlay tree structure, and underlying network characteristics. Experimental data and simulations illustrate that the mean number of hops and mean per-hop delay between parent and child hosts in overlay trees generally decrease as the level of the host in the overlay tree increases. Overlay multicast routing strategies, overlay host distribution, and Internet topology characteristics, are identified as three primary causes of the observed phenomenon. We show that this phenomenon yields overlay tree cost savings: Our results reveal that the normalized cost L(n) / U(n) is (alpha symbol) n^0.9 for small n, where L(n) is the total number of hops in all overlay links, U(n) is the average number of hops on the source to receiver unicast paths, and n is the number of members in the overlay multicast session. This can be compared to an IP multicast cost proportional to n^0.6 to n^0.8.

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Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Center for Advancing the Study of CyberInfrastructure


RIT – Main Campus