Flexible Application Driven Network Striping over Wireless Wide Area Networks

Asfandyar Qureshi
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA,

Inverse multiplexing, or network striping, allows the construction of a high-bandwidth virtual channel from a collection of multiple low-bandwidth network channels. Striping systems usually employ a packet scheduling policy that allows applications to be oblivious of the way in which packets are routed to specific network channels. Though this is appropriate for many applications, many other applications can benefit from an approach that explicitly involves the application in the determination of the striping policy.

Horde is middleware that facilitates flexible striping over Wireless Wide Area Network (WWAN) channels. Horde is unusual in that it separates the striping policy from the striping mechanism. It allows applications to describe network Quality-of-Service (QoS) objectives that the striping mechanism attempts to satisfy. Horde can be used by a set of data streams, each with its own QoS policy, to stripe data over a set of WWAN channels. The WWAN QoS variations observed across different channels and in time, provide opportunities to modulate stream QoS through scheduling.

The key technical challenge in Horde is giving applications control over certain aspects of the data striping operation while at the same time shielding the application from low-level details. Horde exports a set of flexible abstractions replacing the application's network stack. Horde allows applications to express their policy goals as succinct network-QoS objectives. Each objective says something, relatively simple, about the sort of network QoS an application would like for some data stream(s).

We present the Horde architecture, describe an early implementation, and examine how different policies can be used to modulate the quality-of-service observed across different independent data streams. Through experiments conducted on real and simulated network channels, we confirm our belief that the kind of QoS modulation Horde aims to achieve is realistic for actual applications.

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Winner of the Charles and Jennifer Johnson Thesis Prize.
Winner of a Masterworks Award.