Google Research

Juggler: Virtual Networks for Fun and Profit

IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, vol. 9 (2010), pp. 31-43


There are many situations in which an additional network interface—or two—can provide benefits to a mobile user. Additional interfaces can support parallelism in network flows, improve handoff times, and provide sideband communication with nearby peers. Unfortunately, such benefits are outweighed by the added costs of an additional physical interface. Instead, virtual interfaces have been proposed as the solution, multiplexing a single physical interface across more than one communication endpoint. However, the switching time of existing implementations is too high for some potential applications, and the benefits of this approach to real applications are not yet clear. This paper directly addresses these two shortcomings. It describes a link-layer implementation of a virtual 802.11 networking layer, called Juggler, that achieves switching times of approximately 3 ms, and less than 400 \mu{\rm s} in certain conditions. We demonstrate the performance of this implementation on three application scenarios. By devoting 10 percent of the duty cycle to background tasks, Juggler can provide nearly instantaneous handoff between base stations or support a modest sideband channel with peer nodes, without adversely affecting foreground throughput. Furthermore, when the client issues concurrent network flows, Juggler is able to assign these flows across more than one AP, providing significant speedup when wired-side bandwidth from the AP constrains end-to-end performance.

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