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How is Long-Tail traffic provisioned?

Module by: Arnold Mwesigye. E-mail the author

Due to the increased demands that long-tail traffic places on networks resources, networks need to be provisioned to ensure that QoS and SLAs are met.

Network provisioning for long-tail traffic:

For network queues with long-range dependent inputs, the sharp increase in queuing delays at fairly low levels of utilisation and slow decay of queue lengths implies that an incremental improvement in loss performance requires a significant increase in buffer size (Wikipedia).

While throughput declines with increasing self-similarity, the queuing delay increases more drastically. When traffic is self-similar, we find that queuing delay grows proportionally to the buffer capacity present in the system. Therefore, to achieve a constant level of throughput or packet loss as self-similarity is increased, extremely large buffer capacity is needed. However, increased buffering leads to large queuing delays and thus self-similarity significantly steepens the trade-off curve between throughput/ packet loss and delay (Wikipedia).

ATM can be employed in telecommunications networks to overcome second order performance measure problems. The short fixed length cell used in ATM reduces the delay and most significantly the jitter for delay-sensitive services such as voice and video (Wikipedia).

Web site provisioning for long-tail traffic:

As capacity requirements on a site increase, its ability to provide acceptable levels of performance and availability decreases. (Wikipedia).

For the same level of service, heavy-tailed traffic requests require more powerful servers, compared with independent light-tailed traffic requests. In order to guarantee a good level of performance, focus needs to be given to the duration of peak traffic because it is these huge bursts of requests that degrade performance the most. That is why some busy sites require more head room or spare capacity to handle the volumes.(Wikipedia).

For example:

A high-volume online trading site reserves more spare capacity, say with a ratio of three to one, compared to a relatively unused site. (Wikipedia).


Wikipedia. "Long-tail traffic", Wikipedia Foundation Inc,, Last accessed 11 February 2006.

Arnold Mwesigye

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