Document Type

Technical Report


Computer Science and Engineering

Publication Date






Technical Report Number



Overlay hosting systems such as PlanetLab, and cloud computing environments such as Amazon’s EC2, provide shared infrastructures within which new applications can be developed and deployed on a global scale. This paper ex-plores how systems of this sort can be used to enable ad-vanced network services and sophisticated applications that use those services to enhance performance and provide a high quality user experience. Specifically, we investigate how advanced overlay hosting environments can be used to provide network services that enable scalable virtual world applications and other large-scale distributed applications requiring consistent, real-time performance. We propose a novel network architecture called Forest built around per-session tree-structured communication channels that we call comtrees. Comtrees are provisioned and support both unicast and multicast packet delivery. The multicast mechanism is designed to be highly scalable and light-weight enough to support the rapid changes to multicast subscriptions needed for efficient support of state updates within virtual worlds. We evaluate performance using a combination of analysis and experimental measurement of a partial system prototype that supports fully functional distributed game sessions. Our results provide the data needed to enable accurate projections of performance for a variety of session and system configurations.


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