Exploiting the power of multiplicity: a holistic survey of network-layer multipath

Research paper by Junaid Qadir, Anwaar Ali, Kok-Lim Alvin Yau, Arjuna Sathiaseelan, Jon Crowcroft

Indexed on: 07 Feb '15Published on: 07 Feb '15Published in: Computer Science - Networking and Internet Architecture


The Internet is inherently a multipath network---for an underlying network with only a single path connecting various nodes would have been debilitatingly fragile. Unfortunately, traditional Internet technologies have been designed around the restrictive assumption of a single working path between a source and a destination. The lack of native multipath support constrains network performance even as the underlying network is richly connected and has redundant multiple paths. Computer networks can exploit the power of multiplicity to unlock the inherent redundancy of the Internet. This opens up a new vista of opportunities promising increased throughput (through concurrent usage of multiple paths) and increased reliability and fault-tolerance (through the use of multiple paths in backup/ redundant arrangements). There are many emerging trends in networking that signify that the Internet's future will be unmistakably multipath, including the use of multipath technology in datacenter computing; multi-interface, multi-channel, and multi-antenna trends in wireless; ubiquity of mobile devices that are multi-homed with heterogeneous access networks; and the development and standardization of multipath transport protocols such as MP-TCP. The aim of this paper is to provide a comprehensive survey of the literature on network-layer multipath solutions. We will present a detailed investigation of two important design issues, namely the control plane problem of how to compute and select the routes, and the data plane problem of how to split the flow on the computed paths. The main contribution of this paper is a systematic articulation of the main design issues in network-layer multipath routing along with a broad-ranging survey of the vast literature on network-layer multipathing. We also highlight open issues and identify directions for future work.