Planetary-scale network testbeds like PlanetLab and RON have become indispensable for evaluating prototypes of distributed systems under realistic Internet conditions. However, current testbeds lack the heterogeneity that characterizes the commercial Internet. For example, most testbed nodes are connected to well-provisioned research networks, whereas most Internet nodes are in edge networks.
In this paper, we present the design, implementation, and evaluation of SatelliteLab, a testbed that includes nodes from a diverse set of Internet edge networks. SatelliteLab has a two-tier architecture, in which well-provisioned nodes called planets form the core, and lightweight nodes called satellites connect to the planets from the periphery. The application code of an experiment runs on the planets, whereas the satellites only forward network traffic. Thus, the traffic is subjected to the network conditions of the satellites, which greatly improves the testbed’s network heterogeneity. The separation of code execution and traffic forwarding enables satellites to remain lightweight, which lowers the barrier to entry for Internet edge nodes.
Our prototype of SatelliteLab uses PlanetLab nodes as planets and a set of 32 volunteered satellites with diverse network characteristics. These satellites consist of desktops, laptops, and handhelds connected to the Internet via cable, DSL, ISDN, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular links. We evaluate SatelliteLab’s design, and we demonstrate the benefits of evaluating applications on SatelliteLab.