Delay-tolerant bulk data transfers on the internet

Nikolaos Laoutaris, Georgios Smaragdakis, Rade Stanojevic, Pablo Rodriguez, Ravi Sundaram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Citations (Scopus)


Many emerging scientific and industrial applications require transferring multiple terabytes of data on a daily basis. Examples include pushing scientific data from particle accelerators/colliders to laboratories around the world, synchronizing datacenters across continents, and replicating collections of high-definition videos from events taking place at different time-zones. A key property of all above applications is their ability to tolerate delivery delays ranging from a few hours to a few days. Such delay-tolerant bulk (DTB) data are currently being serviced mostly by the postal system using hard drives and DVDs, or by expensive dedicated networks. In this paper, we propose transmitting such data through commercial ISPs by taking advantage of already-paid-for off-peak bandwidth resulting from diurnal traffic patterns and percentile pricing. We show that between sender-receiver pairs with small time-zone difference, simple source scheduling policies are able to take advantage of most of the existing off-peak capacity. When the time-zone difference increases, taking advantage of the full capacity requires performing store-and-forward through intermediate storage nodes. We present an extensive evaluation of the two options based on traffic data from 200+ links of a large transit provider with points of presence (PoPs) at three continents. Our results indicate that there exists huge potential for performing multiterabyte transfers on a daily basis at little or no additional cost.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6423829
Pages (from-to)1852-1865
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes



  • Bandwidth pricing
  • bulk data transfers
  • content distribution
  • delay-tolerant networks (DTNs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Cite this

Laoutaris, N., Smaragdakis, G., Stanojevic, R., Rodriguez, P., & Sundaram, R. (2013). Delay-tolerant bulk data transfers on the internet. IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking, 21(6), 1852-1865. [6423829].