Multicasting: The Solution
The Linux Information Projectdefines multicasting as, “a single stream of data that is transmitted simultaneously to selected multiple hosts who have joined the appropriate multicast group.” (1) Multicasting is a solution to a problem known as the Slashdot effect. This is basically when the bandwidth of an internet website is overwhelmed and the server shuts down because of the mass usage of the site at one time. One of the main causes of this effect is that many people log on to a specific site at the same time and overload the bandwidth. (2) The reason is because every time someone logs on, the server sends a brand new packet to each user. If everyone attempts to get on at the same time, the server is overloaded trying to send new packets to each user. Multicasting is a solution to this problem because, as the above definition suggests, it creates only one brand new packet and sends it simultaneously to different users in the group. (3)
Problems with Multicasting

Multicasting helps reduce this problem of overloaded bandwidth by stopping the copying of the broadcasts. However, while multicasting currently seems like the best possible solution to the Slashdot effect, it has not been completely successful. One of the major reasons is because it is still in experimental phases.

Another proposed solution is “content caching.” However, this solution has its own problems. That is simply, “who pays?” Solutions such as multicasting are expensive. This allows for only large corporations to use it. An example from his article is that a company such as the New York Timesis able to afford to multicast and allow everyone to view their site at any given time, but it is not feasible for a much smaller company’s web site to do so. (3)
References
  1. http://www.linfo.org/multicast.html
  2. http://pasadena.wr.usgs.gov/office/stans/slashdot.html

  1. Silver, David. Massanari, Adrienne. Jones, Steve (Eds.). Sandvig, Christian. Critical
Cyber-culture Studies. Text. (p. 107-111)

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