Efficient and Robust Streaming Provisioning in virtual private networks

Today, most large companies maintain virtual private networks (VPNs) to connect their remote locations into a single secure network. VPNs can be quite large covering more than 1000 locations and in most cases use standard Internet protocols and services. Such VPNs are implemented using a diverse set of technologies such as Frame Relay, MPLS, or IPSEC to achieve the goal of privacy and performance isolation from the public Internet. Using VPNs to distribute live content has recently received tremendous interest. For example, a VPN could be used to broadcast a CEOemployee town hall meeting. To distribute this type of content economically without overloading the network, the deployment of streaming caches or splitters is most likely required.

We address the problem of optimally placing such caches to broadcast to a given set of VPN endpoints under the constraints typically found within a VPN. In particular, we introduce an efficient algorithm with complexity O(V ), V being the number of routers. This guarantees the optimal cache placement if interception is used for redirection. We prove that the general problem is NP-hard and introduce multiple heuristics for efficient and robust cache placement suitable under different constraints. At the expense of increased implementation complexity, each heuristic provides additional saving in the number of caches required. We evaluate proposed solutions using extensive simulations. In particular, we show our flow-based solution is very close to the optimal.

We study the problem of placing cache servers in VPNs to provision for unicast based video streaming events. Our goal is to satisfy a given client population with the minimal number of cache servers. Given the bound on the number of cache servers, we add the additional goal of placing them in such a way as to minimize the total bandwidth usage. We developed provably optimal algorithms to achieve both goals using an interception cache server based solution. In addition, we prove that the problem is NP-hard in general. We then develop a set of simple and efficient heuristics to provide reasonable solutions to the cache placement problem if non-interception based redirection is used. Each of these solutions provide additional improvement in cache reduction at the expense of increased implementation cost compared to interception based redirection.

In addition to those theoretical results we performed extensive simulations to evaluate the performance of our algorithms in realistic settings. We discovered in particular that if non-interception based redirection systems are used, the number of caches can be reduced by more than 27% using our heuristics compared to the greedy strategy for interception based redirection. Additionally, in large networks, if redirection is based on individual client IP addresses, our heuristics reduce the number of caches by 17% compared to the case where redirection is based on the router or the entire IP prefix ranges. If technologies such as MPLS are available to perform source routing, we show a flow-based algorithm can improve up to 40% in the number of caches and is very close to the actual optimal.

For future work, we intend to verify our algorithms by implementing it within a large VPN. We also plan to evaluate the robustness of flow-based algorithm in presence of inaccurate input data and more thoroughly study the benefit in bandwidth saving using our proposed dynamic programming algorithm.


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