Abstract

Since the identification of long-range dependence in network traffic ten years ago, its consistent appearance across numerous measurement studies has largely discredited Poisson-based models. However, since that original data set was collected, both link speeds and the number of Internet-connected hosts have increased by more than three orders of magnitude. Thus, we now revisit the Poisson assumption, by studying a combination of historical traces and new measurements obtained from a major backbone link belonging to a Tier 1 ISP. We show that unlike the older data sets, current network traffic can be well represented by the Poisson model for sub-second time scales. At multi-second scales, we find a distinctive piecewise-linear non-stationarity, together with evidence of long-range dependence. Combining our observations across both time scales leads to a time-dependent Poisson characterization of network traffic that, when viewed across very long time scales, exhibits the observed long-range dependence. This traffic characterization reconciliates the seemingly contradicting observations of Poisson and long-memory traffic characteristics. It also seems to be in general agreement with recent theoretical models for large-scale traffic aggregation.