In today’s data networks, traffic analysis — determining which links are getting congested and why — is usually done by computers at the network’s edge, which try to infer the state of the network from the times at which different data packets reach their destinations.
If the routers inside the network could instead report on their own circumstances, network analysis would be much more precise and efficient, enabling network operators to more rapidly address problems. To that end, router manufacturers have begun equipping their routers with counters that can report on the number of data packets a router has processed in a given time interval.
But raw number counts are only so useful, and giving routers a special-purpose monitoring circuit for every new measurement an operator might want to make isn’t practical. The alternative is for routers to ship data packets to outside servers for more complex analysis, but that technique doesn’t scale well.
Read more at MIT News