The Quest for Balancing Peer Load in Structured Peer-to-Peer Systems

Structured peer-to-peer (P2P) systems are considered as the next generation application backbone on the Internet. An important problem of these systems is load balancing in the presence of non-uniform data distributions. In this paper we propose a completely decentralized mechanism that in parallel addresses a local and a global load balancing problem: (1) balancing the storage load uniformly among peers participating in the network and (2) uniformly replicating different data items in the network while optimally exploiting existing storage capacity. Our approach is based on the P-Grid P2P system which is our variant of a structured P2P network. Problem (1) is solved by directly adapting the search structure to the data distribution. This may result in an unbalanced search structure, but we will show that the expected search cost in P-Grid in number of messages remains logarithmic under all circumstances. Problem (2) is solved by a dynamic, reactive balancing method based on sampling the P-Grid structure. Through simulations we show that our solution provides a scalable approach to these load balancing problems. Finally we discuss issues that had to be addressed beyond the theoretical aspects when implementing our approach as part of a practical P2P system.

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