Wide-Area Traffic: The Failure of Poisson Modeling
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Network arrivals are often modeled as Poisson processes for analytic simplicity, even though a number of traffic studies have shown that packet interarrivals are not exponentially distributed. We evaluate 24 wide-area traces, investigating a number of wide-area TCP arrival processes (session and connection arrivals, FTP data connection arrivals within FTP sessions, and TELNET packet arrivals) to determine the error introduced by modeling them using Poisson processes. We find that user-initiated TCP session arrivals, such as remotelogin and file-transfer, are well-modeled as Poisson processes with fixed hourly rates, but that other connection arrivals deviate considerably from Poisson; that modeling TELNET packet interarrivals as exponential grievously underestimates the burstiness of TELNET traffic, but using the empirical Tcplib [Danzig et al, 1992] interarrivals preserves burstiness over many time scales; and that FTP data connection arrivals within FTP sessions come bunched into “connection bursts,” the largest of which are so large that they completely dominate FTP data traffic. Finally, we offer some results regarding how our findings relate to the possible self-similarity of widearea traffic.