A case for end system multicast (keynote address)
The conventional wisdom has been that IP is the natural protocol layer for implementing multicast related functionality. However, ten years after its initial proposal, IP Multicast is still plagued with concerns pertaining to scalability, network management, deployment and support for higher layer functionality such as error, flow and congestion control. In this paper, we explore an alternative architecture for small and sparse groups, where end systems implement all multicast related functionality including membership management and packet replication. We call such a scheme End System Multicast. This shifting of multicast support from routers to end systems has the potential to address most problems associated with IP Multicast. However, the key concern is the performance penalty associated with such a model. In particular, End System Multicast introduces duplicate packets on physical links and incurs larger end-to-end delay than IP Multicast. In this paper, we study this question in the context of the Narada protocol. In Narada, end systems self-organize into an overlay structure using a fully distributed protocol. In addition, Narada attempts to optimize the efficiency of the overlay based on end-to-end measurements. We present details of Narada and evaluate it using both simulation and Internet experiments. Preliminary results are encouraging. In most simulations and Internet experiments, the delay and bandwidth penalty are low. We believe the potential benefits of repartitioning multicast functionality between end systems and routers significantly outweigh the performance penalty incurred.