New Paper in IEEE Transactions on Network and Service Management
Abstract: Closed-loop flow control protocols, such as the prominent implementation TCP, are prevalent in the Internet, today. TCP has continuously been improved for greedy traffic sources to achieve high throughput over networks with large bandwidth delay products. Recently, the increasing use for streaming and interactive applications, such as voice and video, has shifted the focus towards its delay performance. Given the need for real-time communication of non-greedy sources via TCP, we present an estimation method for performance evaluation of closed-loop flow control protocols. We characterize an end-to-end connection by a service curve that provides statistical guarantees for arbitrary traffic. The estimation is based on end-to-end measurements at the application level that include all effects induced by the network and by the protocol stacks of the end systems. From our measurements, we identify different causes for delays. We show that significant delays are due to queueing in protocol stacks. Notably, this occurs even if the utilization is moderate. Using our estimation method, we compare the impact of fundamental mechanisms of TCP on delays at the application level: In detail, we analyze parameters relevant for network dimensioning, including buffer provisioning and active queue management, and parameters for server configuration, such as the congestion control algorithm. By applying our method as a benchmark, we find that a good selection can largely improve the delay performance of TCP.