This article focuses on the multireceiver data dissemination problem. Initially, IP multicast formed the basis for efficiently supporting such distribution. More recently, overlay networks have emerged to support point-to-multipoint communication. Both techniques focus on constructing trees rooted at the source to distribute content among all interested receivers. We argue, however, that trees have two fundamental limitations for data dissemination. First, since all data comes from a single parent, participants must often continuously probe in search of a parent with an acceptable level of bandwidth. Second, due to packet losses and failures, available bandwidth is monotonically decreasing down the tree.
To address these limitations, we present Bullet, a data dissemination mesh that takes advantage of the computational and storage capabilities of end hosts to create a distribution structure where a node receives data in parallel from multiple peers. For the mesh to deliver improved bandwidth and reliability, we need to solve several key problems: (i) disseminating disjoint data over the mesh, (ii) locating missing content, (iii) finding who to peer with (peering strategy), (iv) retrieving data at the right rate from all peers (flow control), and (v) recovering from failures and adapting to dynamically changing network conditions. Additionally, the system should be self-adjusting and should have few user-adjustable parameter settings. We describe our approach to addressing all of these problems in a working, deployed system across the Internet. Bullet outperforms state-of-the-art systems, including BitTorrent, by 25-70% and exhibits strong performance and reliability in a range of deployment settings. In addition, we find that, relative to tree-based solutions, Bullet reduces the need to perform expensive bandwidth probing.
Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2008. Vol. 26, no 1