Project: Improving Network QoS in Groupware

When groupware is used over the Internet, latency, jitter, loss, limited bandwidth, and other factors cripple performance, resulting in what users call "lag". This causes usability problems that are not only frustrating, but inhibit collaboration. To reduce the effects of lag on the user, the end points must find ways to cope with these network problems.

One approach to coping with network problems is to design applications to send information over the network more efficiently. Application layer networking aims to improve efficiency by minimizing network resource usage while meeting the quality of service (QoS) requirements of the information that is being sent between users.

The goal of this project is to introduce a high performance approach to application layer networking that is tailored to suit the needs of groupware. The design considers the unique needs of groupware users and characteristics of groupware traffic, producing a set of novel network design guidelines that are specific to groupware. The core of the design is a QoS architecture for groupware, which is used to communicate performance requirements and enables an abstraction between applications and a groupware network layer. The other component of this work is a high performance network layer that implements a set of high performance networking techniques in order to meet the diverse QoS requirements of groupware applications.

The QoS architecture and network layer will make groupware easier to build for application developers while greatly improving network performance. By improving application layer networking for groupware, groupware will be able to function beyond the LAN, leading to improved usability and increasing the possibilities for distributed collaboration.

Work currently in progress or completed toward this solution includes:

  • A QoS model for groupware.
  • A method for communicating QoS between the application and network services layer that is aimed at making QoS simple to manage for application programmers.
  • Architecture of the network services layer (both conceptual and some concrete examples)
  • A characterization study of GroupDraw, a shared whiteboard application, that reveals patterns of groupware messages for a variety of tasks and groups.
  • High performance networking techniques tailored for the needs of groupware such as adaptive forward error correction, application layer multicast, packet path diversity, and adaptive rate control.
  • Future work will focus on developing more high performance networking techniques for groupware, implementing the network services layer, and testing the approach using simulations.

    Email Jeff Dyck if you are interested in learning more about this project.

    Sponsors

    TRLabs
    NSERC

    Participants

    Jeff Dyck
    University of Saskatchewan
    Carl Gutwin
    University of Saskatchewan