A Collaborative NSF CNS Project by Tufts University and Boston University

Project Overview

Today’s Internet is increasingly expected to support interactive applications – the emerging wave of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality applications is putting unprecedented demands on the network. Unfortunately, today’s Internet offers a best effort service, which often falls short of meeting the desired goals of these applications.

This research will revisit the quality of service (QoS) problem in the context of the emerging cloud infrastructure: the global footprint of data centers (DC) hosted by major cloud providers. These DCs have good network connectivity (between them as well as to the end-users) but are costly to use; these factors lead to two important questions: what QoS can be achieved if these DCs are used as an assistive overlay for wide area communication, and ii) can we use DCs in a judicious manner to enhance the best effort nature of the Internet, so as to get their benefits without incurring excessive cost? This project will address these two questions. First, using extensive network measurements, it will quantify the potential benefits of using the cloud as an assistive overlay for wide area communication. Second, it will investigate how best effort Internet paths can be be judiciously combined with cloud overlays to provide bandwidth and latency guarantees for wide area communication, using appropriate and economically efficient pricing mechanisms.

Towards the long-standing problem of how to provide QoS in today’s Internet, this research will make fundamental advances in the form of:

  1. Measurement insights on the QoS that can be offered by cloud-based overlays
  2. Novel cloud-based shared and exclusive services that combine best effort Internet paths with cloud paths
  3. A new packet recovery protocol for interactive applications that uses retransmissions from nearby DCs for fast recovery
  4. A novel application of network coding to recover wide area Internet losses with the help of the cloud
  5. Pricing mechanisms for cloud-based QoS services
  6. An abstraction and mechanism for end-to-end bandwidth guarantees by combining Internet and cloud paths.

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