Visualizing the Global Topology of the MBone
Proceedings of the 1996
IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization, pp. 85-92,
October 28-29 1996, San Francisco, CA, 1996.
We present a case study of visualizing the global topology of the
Internet MBone. The MBone is the Internet's multicast backbone.
Multicast is the most efficient way of distributing data from one
sender to multiple receivers with minimal packet duplication.
Developed and initially deployed by researchers within the Internet
community, the MBone has been extremely popular for efficient
transmission across the Internet of real-time video and audio streams
such as conferences, meetings, congressional sessions, and NASA
shuttle launches. The MBone, like the Internet itself, grew
exponentially with no central authority. The resulting suboptimal
topology is of growing concern to network providers and the multicast
We create a geographic representation of the tunnel structure as arcs
on a globe by resolving the latitude and longitude of MBone routers.
The interactive 3D maps permit an immediate understanding of the
global structure unavailable from the data in its original form as
lines of text with only hostnames and IP addresses. Data visualization
techniques such as grouping and thresholding allow further analysis of
specific aspects of the MBone topology. We distribute the interactive
3D maps through the World-Wide Web using the VRML file format, thus
allowing network maintainers throughout the world to analyze the
structure more effectively than would be possible with still pictures
or pre-made videos.
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