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The conventional wisdom has been that Internet protocol (IP) is the natural protocol layer for implementing multicast related functionality. However, more than a decade after its initial proposal, IP multicast is still plagued with concerns pertaining to scalability, network management, deployment, and support for higher layer functionality such as error, flow, and congestion control. We explore an alternative architecture that we term end system multicast, where end systems implement all multicast related functionality including membership management and packet replication. This shifting of multicast support from routers to end systems has the potential to address most problems associated with IP multicast. However, the key concern is the performance penalty associated with such a model. In particular, end system multicast introduces duplicate packets on physical links and incurs larger end-to-end delays than IP multicast. We study these performance concerns in the context of the Narada protocol. In Narada, end systems self-organize into an overlay structure using a fully distributed protocol. Further, end systems attempt to optimize the efficiency of the overlay by adapting to network dynamics and by considering application level performance. We present details of Narada and evaluate it using both simulation and Internet experiments. Our results indicate that the performance penalties are low both from the application and the network perspectives. We believe the potential benefits of transferring multicast functionality from end systems to routers significantly outweigh the performance penalty incurred.