Network Positioning from the Edge: An Empirical Study of the Effectiveness of Network Positioning in P2P Systems

Network positioning systems provide an important service to large-scale P2P systems, potentially enabling clients to achieve higher performance, reduce cross-ISP traffic and improve the robustness of the system to failures. Because traces representative of this environment are generally unavailable, and there is no platform suited for experimentation at the appropriate scale, network positioning systems have been commonly implemented and evaluated in simulation and on research testbeds. The performance of network positioning remains an open question for large deployments at the edges of the network.

This paper evaluates how four key classes of network positioning systems fare when deployed at scale and measured in P2P systems where they are used. Using 2 billion network measurements gathered from more than 43,000 IP addresses probing over 8 million other IPs worldwide, we show that network positioning exhibits noticeably worse performance than previously reported in studies conducted on research testbeds. To explain this result, we identify several key properties of this environment that call into question fundamental assumptions driving network positioning research.