Mobile-Agent versus Client/Server Performance: Scalability in an Information-Retrieval Task

Robert S. Gray, Dartmouth College
David Kotz, Dartmouth College
Ronald A. Peterson Jr, Dartmouth College
Peter Gerken, Lockheed-Martin Advanced Technology Laboratory
Martin Hofmann, Lockheed-Martin Advanced Technology Laboratory
Daria Chacon, Lockheed-Martin Advanced Technology Laboratory
Greg Hill, University of West Florida
Niranjan Suri, University of West Florida

Dartmouth Computer Science Technical Report TR2001-386


Mobile agents are programs that can jump from host to host in the network, at times and to places of their own choosing. Many groups have developed mobile-agent software platforms, and several mobile-agent applications. Experiments show that mobile agents can, among other things, lead to faster applications, reduced bandwidth demands, or less dependence on a reliable network connection. There are few if any studies of the scalability of mobile-agent servers, particularly as the number of clients grows. We present some recent performance and scalability experiments that compare three mobile-agent platforms with each other and with a traditional client/server approach. The experiments show that mobile agents often outperform client/server solutions, but also demonstrate the deep interaction between environmental and application parameters. The three mobile-agent platforms have similar behavior but their absolute performance varies with underlying implementation choices.