FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 21, 2000

Contact:
Mark Bruhn
Office of the VP for IT & CIO
812-855-0326
mbruhn@indiana.edu
Press Release

IU TO PROVIDE A METHOD FOR OPTIMIZING NETWORK TRAFFIC RELATING TO DISTRIBUTED MULTIMEDIA APPLICATIONS

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA — Indiana University announced today that it will make available for public use a method that reduces network congestion generated by distributed multimedia database applications that allow the downloading and playing of music and other multimedia files.

Since recently experiencing such congestion on its own network, Indiana University has been working on solutions to this problem. Napster Inc, a company developing a distributed multimedia Internet application, consulted with Indiana University in its efforts to find solutions. Indiana University and Napster Inc have jointly invented a method that will be made available as a solution for the congestion problem.

Mark Bruhn, IU Information Technology Policy Officer said, "Such applications are becoming increasingly popular, especially with students, and they represent a major new phase in the use of the Internet. At the same time, because of the random way they seek files, they place a heavy strain on commercial Internet connections at institutions such as universities. The method which Indiana University will make publically available will help to significantly reduce this strain when incorporated into these kinds of applications."

The method will be made available for public use in the form of a formal Internet Draft (ID) which is the accepted method by which organizations can propose better networking practices to the Internet technical community. It is the first step in proposing a Request for Comment (RFC) and ultimately, a new Internet operating standard.

When implemented for an application, the method described in the Indiana University ID seeks to optimize the way in which the application running on a computer attempts to find files on other computers by searching on computers nearest to it first.

For example, when such applications are run on a computer in a residence hall at a university, this method would ensure that the application first seeks to obtain files from other computers in the university's network system. If the file cannot be found within the university's network, the new method would then direct it to seek it next from computers at other institutions attached to high bandwidth networks that connect universities. If the file cannot be found on these networks, only then would the computer seek it out in the commercial Internet using a university's connection to the Internet.

The Internet Draft prepared by Indiana University is being prepared and will be available on 11 April at http://bestpath.iu.edu/

IU expects that this ID or versions of it will rapidly be adopted by companies developing these types of Internet applications and will be welcomed by other universities and Internet service providers. IU will also make available an implementation of the ID method via a web server, to facilitate its adoption by vendors and application developers. This implementation will be linked from the IU Internet Draft website referenced above.

Because it expects this new method to be rapidly adopted, together with additional changes to its network, IU will unblock access to Napster servers for a trial period of two weeks beginning 25 March, 2000. If these methods stabilize the traffic generated by such applications, it will not be necessary to re-block these servers.

IU will also be working to encourage vendors to adopt a new network class of service (called Lower than Best Efforts - LBE) that would allow their applications to send and receive files at a low priority that does not interfere with the principal uses of institutional networks. (LBE is defined in an Internet Draft, which can be found at http://search.ietf.org/internet-drafts/draft-bless-diffserv-lbe-phb-00.txt)

As the ID is implemented, the high bandwidth networks to which IU is connected will carry a larger portion of IU's traffic generated by these applications. These networks will provide an excellent environment in which Indiana University and other universities may carry out research on the use of the IU ID method and various candidate LBE classes of service in managing traffic generated by suc applications. These applications will become widely used on the commercial Internet in the near future.

Indiana University (http://www.indiana.edu/) is one of the oldest state universities in the Midwest and one of the largest universities in the United States, with more than 100,000 students, faculty and staff on eight campuses. IU is home to a sophisticated and powerful environment for research and academic computing. The university manages the operations centers for Abilene, the backbone network of Internet2; TransPAC, a network connection between the United States and the Asia Pacific region; the Science, Technology and Research Transit Access Point (STAR TAP) in Chicago; and Euro-Link.



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Posted 21 March 2000
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