Coping with Limited Bandwidth

If our distributed application is bandwidth-limited in one of these ways, then our system needs to have a way to monitor our data feeds, and manage the bandwidth usage of the system. Monitoring data throughput is a way to detect changes in the runtime environment of the system, and managing bandwidth is a way to react to these changes. It’s not sufficient to say “what you get is what you get”; we need to find out what bandwidth is available and optimize the way we use it.

Monitoring Bandwidth

You typically need to monitor the data flowing in and out of a local agent in terms of both raw and real data throughput. Raw data is fed into and out of the system at the socket or stream level. Below this level, the data is handled on the network, using the appropriate protocol. Raw data transmitted over the network may be compressed or otherwise encoded, and may require decoding before being usable as “real” data. A bandwidth-limited system needs to be capable of monitoring raw data throughput in order to respond to network variability (bandwidth fluctuations, loss of service, etc.). It must also monitor real data throughput in order to pick up on major fluctuations in its net bandwidth usage and local resources like CPU availability, while maintaining a certain performance level. How to measure performance depends on the application, but will typically be a function of responsiveness, relative rate of data delivery to the user, etc.

Managing Bandwidth

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