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Traditional SLAs, defined by average delay or packet loss, often camouflage the instantaneous performance perceived by end-users. We define a set of metrics for service availability to quantify the performance of IP backbone networks and capture the impact of routing dynamics on packet forwarding. Given a network topology and its link weights, we propose a novel technique to compute the associated service availability by taking into account transient routing dynamics and operational conditions, such as BGP table size and traffic distributions. Even though there are numerous models for characterizing topologies, none of them provide insights on the expected performance perceived by end customers. Our simulations show that the amount of service disruption experienced by similar networks (i.e., with similar intrinsic properties such as average out-degree or network diameter) could be significantly different, making it imperative to use new metrics for characterizing networks. In the second part of the paper, we derive goodness factors based on service availability viewed from three perspectives: ingress node (from one node to many destinations), link (traffic traversing a link), and network-wide (across all source-destination pairs). We show how goodness factors can be used in various applications and describe our numerical results.
Date of Conference: 7-9 June 2004