I want to ask a definition question. What is "a network flow whose packets are sent on a single path" called? Is it unsplittable flow, integral flow, or integer flow? or something else?

Thank you in advance.

  • I think you need to provide more context around this question. Where did it come from, and in what context? – Ron Maupin May 17 '16 at 5:57
  • Hey Ron! Let's say a flow is a single TCP session. Would that help? – user25443 May 17 '16 at 5:59
  • I'm trying to get the context of your definitions. I can explain a flow, but I' need to understand from where the definitions to which you refer come. – Ron Maupin May 17 '16 at 6:04
  • Assume we have multiple hosts connected in a network and there are many paths between every pair of them. Now, instead of multiplexing packets on several paths, we want to send each flow on exactly one path. The physical context could be a small data center network. – user25443 May 17 '16 at 6:11
  • We normally call that flow-based load balancing, as opposed to something like packet-based load balancing. I don't understand where you are coming from with the question. That's why I wan t more context around the question. Is there a particular article you were reading? – Ron Maupin May 17 '16 at 6:13

There's no special name for the flow, because the path(s) taken by a flow isn't really a property of the flow so much as it is a property of the frame-forwarding devices on the path(s) and their link-sharing configurations.

Moreover even when link layer technologies are configured to send all packets in a flow along one link, that doesn't prevent different choices being made at the network layer, such as when a upstream link flaps and the IP next-hop changes, or when the forward path and return paths are not identical (asymmetric routing), or when there is a MPLS fast-reroute.

Thus there's no convenient name as we always have to spell out with some care what we mean by "all packets in a flow take the same path" so we are clear which aspect of device configuration is being explored.

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