Maelstrom: Transparent Error Correction for Communication Between Data Centers

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Executive Summary

The global network of data centers is emerging as an important distributed systems paradigm - commodity clusters running high-performance applications, connected by high-speed 'Lambda' networks across hundreds of milliseconds of network latency. Packet loss on long-haul networks can cripple the performance of applications and protocols - a loss rate as low as 0.1% is sufficient to reduce TCP/IP throughput by an order of magnitude on a 1 Gbps link with 50ms one-way latency. Maelstrom is an edge appliance that masks packet loss transparently and quickly from inter-cluster protocols, aggregating traffic for high-speed encoding and using a new Forward Error Correction scheme to handle bursty loss.

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