The New York Times (27 November 2011) has an interesting article under “bright ideas” called Turn on the Server. It’s Cold Outside.
Peer-to-peer (P2P)—“computer network uses diverse connectivity between participants in a network and the cumulative bandwidth of network participants rather than conventional centralized resources where a relatively low number of servers provide the core value to a service or application. Peer-to-peer networks are typically used for connecting nodes via largely ad hoc connections. Such networks are useful for many purposes. Sharing content files (see file sharing) containing audio, video, data or anything in digital format is very common, and realtime data, such as telephony traffic, is also passed using P2P technology. A pure peer-to-peer network does not have the notion of clients or servers, but only equal peer nodes that simultaneously function as both “clients” and “servers” to the other nodes on the network. This model of network arrangement differs from the client-server model where communication is usually to and from a central server. A typical example for a non peer-to-peer file transfer is an FTP server where the client and server programs are quite distinct, and the clients initiate the download/uploads and the servers react to and satisfy these requests… Peer-to-peer architecture embodies one of the key technical concepts of the Internet” (Wikipedia)
CNET news, 24 January 2008, reports that P2P technology is important for reducing network traffic and speeding up downloads from the web.
How does P2P help users?
P2P as a “distributed model is much more efficient and cost effective for distributing large files on the internet, than the traditional client-server model.”
P2P for media distribution helps companies so that they “don’t have to spend millions of dollars building out their own server farms and high-speed infrastructure.”
How does P2P work?
“P2P leverages “peers” in the network to host pieces of content…P2P allows the file to be downloaded once and shared many times. In fact, distribution gets more efficient the more people who want the file.”
What is the next target architecture for P2P?
“The P2P solution adds network intelligence to the peering process, so that P2P applications can make smarter decisions about where they get the content…if a P2P service can understand how the network is configured to request the file at the closest peers rather than arbitrarily getting it from a peer across the country or around the globe, it could save a log of network resources…what’s more, using peers that are closer also helps files download faster.”
From a User-centric EA perspective, the ability to use bandwidth more efficiently and to download files faster is a positive development for satisfying user needs for transport of ever greater amounts of data, voice, and video over the internet. Moreover, as the technologies for carrying these converge, we will continue to see even greater requirements to move these communications more efficiently and effectively. P2P is a viable technology for accomplishing this.