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Atlanta Chapter

March 14, 2000
Meeting Abstract

Putting the Cart Before the Horse:
The Use of Push Technology to Build Scalable Information Delivery Services

Mostafa H. Ammar
College of Computing
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA


One of the main challenges faced by information and multimedia delivery service providers is how to handle the explosive growth in client demands. A main obstacle to the scalability of existing information services is their reliance on the "pull" model where the server responds individually to a client's request. This approach requires the dedication of some server and network resources exclusively for the client. The "push" (or dissemination) model of information delivery allows the server to take the initiative in packaging and forwarding the information to multiple clients simultaneously, using (ideally) a networking infrastructure that supports multipoint communication. This has the effect of using up less resources per client and results in excellent scalability for the service.

Commercial systems touting the use of push technology are receiving increased attention. In reality, these systems represent push-based information services at their infancy. The full potential of the technology is awaiting resolution of application architectural as well as network support issues.

In this talk we first give a brief overview of the elements of push technology. We next discuss its use in two applications: delivery of web content and the provision of a video-on-demand service. We describe the results of on-going research efforts aimed at the design, prototyping and evaluation of a multicast push-based web delivery system. This is followed by a description of the various approaches that can be used to provide a push-based video-on-demand system and a sampling of the research results in this area. We conclude with a brief description of other venues where push technology has found an application and some projections as to the future of the technology.


Mostafa Ammar is a Professor with the College of Computing at Georgia Tech. He received the S.B. and S.M. degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1978 and 1980, respectively and the Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada in 1985. For the years 1980-82 he worked at Bell-Northern Research (BNR), first as a Member of Technical Staff and then as Manager of Data Network Planning. In 1999, he was on a sabbatical leave with BellSouth Telecommunications' Science and Technology organization and returned to his Ivory Tower in January 2000. His research interests are in the areas of computer network architectures and protocols, distributed computing systems, and performance evaluation.

Dr. Ammar currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking. He is the co-author of the textbook "Fundamentals of Telecommunication Networks," published by John Wiley and Sons and was the co-guest editor of April 1997 issue of the IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications on "Network Support for Multipoint Communication." He also served as the Technical Program Co-Chair for the 1997 IEEE International Conference on Network Protocols. He was the co-recipient of the Best Paper Award at the 7th WWW Conference (1998).