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Since the early days of the Internet, network traffic monitoring has always played a strategic role in understanding and characterizing users¿ activities. In this article, we present our experience in engineering and deploying Tstat, an open source passive monitoring tool that has been developed in the past 10 years. Started as a scalable tool to continuously monitor packets that flow on a link, Tstat has evolved into a complex application that gives network researchers and operators the possibility to derive extended and complex measurements thanks to advanced traffic classifiers. After discussing Tstat capabilities and internal design, we present some examples of measurements collected deploying Tstat at the edge of several ISP networks in past years. While other works report a continuous decline of P2P traffic with streaming and file hosting services rapidly increasing in popularity, the results presented in this article picture a different scenario. First, P2P decline has stopped, and in the last months of 2010 there was a counter tendency to increase P2P traffic over UDP, so the common belief that UDP traffic is negligible is not true anymore. Furthermore, streaming and file hosting applications have either stabilized or are experiencing decreasing traffic shares. We then discuss the scalability issues software-based tools have to cope with when deployed in real networks, showing the importance of properly identifying bottlenecks.
Date of Publication: May-June 2011