NEWS - Reusing P2P for early detection of network problems
The short story
The main goal of this plugin is to reliably find problems in the network and raise alerts about them. As a user, you want to be sure that you are getting the service that you're paying for and be notified quickly about network problems, especially those that can lead to compensation for service interruption. For ISPs, this software helps to quickly localize and identify network problems so they can be fixed more rapidly and make users happy.
The NEWS (Network Early Warning System) plugin does this by passively monitoring your BitTorrent performance and checking for changes that might indicate problems with the network. Because a network problem can be anywhere, including your local network, NEWS uses corroboration from multiple users running in the same area (e.g., ISP or country). If enough people see the same problem in the same area, an alarm is raised. The main benefit of our solution is that it uses a common-sense approach of monitoring the natural traffic generated by your BitTorrent client, making detection of network performance problems extremely lightweight.
Our NEWS plugin, which seamlessly installs into the Vuze/Azureus BitTorrent client, can be downloaded from the bottom of this page. Join the 56,143 users who have already done so!
- 10/24/2008: We have become aware of a problem with NEWS on Macs related to the Java version -- this will be fixed in the next release. Also, for more updated changelog information, please see the plugin list.
- 7/1/2008: Version 0.8 mainlined. This includes numerous bug fixes.
- 6/24/2008: Version 0.6 released as signed plugin for beta testing on large numbers of users.
- 5/19/2008: Version 0.2 released. This has significant bug fixes and is mature enough for general consumption.
- 5/7/2008: First version released.
For the Technical Crowd
The Internet is increasingly used as a platform for diverse distributed services such as VoIP, content distribution and IPTV. Given the popularity and potential for revenue from these services, their user experience has become an important benchmark for service providers, network providers and end users.
Perceived user experience is in large part determined by the frequency, duration and severity of network events that impact a service. There is thus a clear need to detect, isolate and determine the root causes of these service-level network events so that operators can resolve such issues in a timely manner, minimizing their impact on revenue and reputation.
We argue that the most effective way to detect service-level events is by monitoring the end systems where the services are used. NEWS acheives this goal through practical approach to monitoring that enables real-time detection of network events impacting the user experience for services that reach the network edge.
Most previous work focuses on monitoring core networks or probing from global research and education network (GREN) environments. While effective at detecting events that affect large numbers of customers and services, these approaches can miss silent failures (e.g., incompatible QoS or ACL settings) and their impact on services for customers. Further, existing end-to-end monitoring approaches require active measurements that do not scale to the vast number of elements at the edge of the network.
We address these challenges through a new approach to network event detection -- pushing end-to-end performance monitoring and detection to the end systems themselves. By crowdsourcing network monitoring, participating hosts can handle the magnitude of data required for detecting events in real time, at the scale of millions of monitors. In addition, using end systems provides flexibility in the types of monitoring software that can be installed inside or alongside services, facilitating immediate and incremental deployments.
For more details, please see the overview and technical report below.
NEWS stands for Network Early Warning System. By using natural traffic generated by BitTorrent clients, NEWS is able to detect and localize network events quickly and efficiently, allowing users to ensure they are getting the performance they pay for and network operators to correct potential network problems before they get out of hand.
- NEWS Overview, released November 2, 2009.
- Using the Crowd to Monitor the Cloud: Detecting Network Events from Edge Systems. Northwestern University Tech. Report NWU-EECS-09-19.
- Official signed version (once installed, it automatically updates from Vuze)
- Disclaimer: By downloading and installing this plugin, you agree to the terms of this disclaimer.
- License: This software is released under the GPL. The source code can be found in the jar.
- NEWS Forum (for help and discussion)
- Vuze (formerly Azureus) client
- BitTorrent site
Frequently Asked Questions
- Does this really detect network problems According to extensive data collected from hundreds of thousand of users worldwide, NEWS should work great. The more people use it, the better it works, so please spread the word!
- Does this work with my operating system? In short, yes. NEWS relies only on Vuze, so it should work anywhere that Vuze works. If you encounter a problem, please let us know!