P2P video streaming has finally arrived. It took a little bit longer than expected but expect users to move away from sites like Mega Upload and to move to BitTorrent Live. P2P video streaming allows people to see content in real-time without having to download the content first. Since BitTorrent Live will also be used for official and legitimate content distribution, throttling bandwidth by the operator might be seen as breach on competition laws by the European and American authorities. This will make it difficult for operators to control the flow of data in their fixed and mobile networks.
In a recent article, solutions for both Hollywood and operators were discussed so please have a look there…
P2P, short for Peer2Peer, allows computers to communicate directly instead of having a central server managing the communications. P2P became (in)famous for (illegal) file-sharing. Skype was the first company that understood the potential and used it to revolutionize PC to PC communication.
A recent list of dotcoms is starting to find new uses for P2P. Wuala is an example whereby cloud computing and P2P is combined to offer an innovative backup solution.
Also the academic investigations into P2P are very active, an example is the chord project.
Why is P2P interesting?
P2P runs locally on a computer and allows direct communication between other computers. From an operator´s perspective this means that communications are direct between PCs which reduces long-distance routing to central servers.
For the user the big advantage is the redundancy and resilience of a P2P network. Have you ever uploaded content by mistake? On a cloud computing or client-server solution this can be easily removed. If the content becomes popular on a P2P network then it is virtually impossible to remove it.
What are the disadvantages of P2P?
Too much file sharing means that a small set of broadband users are monopolizing the operator´s network. Operators prevent this by reducing the bandwidth an individual user can take up with P2P connections. This bandwidth reduction results in unreliable speeds for legitimate uses of P2P.
How can the operator make money with P2P?
If P2P bandwidth can be reduced, then it can also be increased. These changes in quality of service can be a premium offering. Who would be interested in purchasing them?
By itself they are useless. However if the extra speed resolves real business and consumer problems then there is a market.
Peercling = Peer2Peer + Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is an over-hyped term. Software-as-a-Service is a subset of cloud computing and focuses on providing services in a remote manner on a pay-as-you-use basis. A good example is Salesforce that offers customer relationship management, among other solutions, via remote access on a pay-as-you-use basis.
Remote access is important here. What if a sales director is not connected, e.g. in the car, on a plane, etc.? Cloud computing is often useless if you are not connected.
Peercling to the rescue. Peercling is the combination of P2P and Cloud Computing. A local P2P client allows users to access a local copy of the data while not connected. Afterwards this data is synchronized with other peers, servers or cloud computing solutions.
Why can´t we use client-server?
P2P is important to Peercling. A lot of server or cloud computing solutions have vast quantities of data. A single PC might not be big enough to store this much data. P2P comes to the rescue when applications might not be able to connect to a remote system but are able to connect to local PCs. When does this happen? If the internet connection is down but the LAN is still working or when the server or cloud computing solution is down.
The power of having access to multiple peers allows vast amounts of data that are stored in cloud computing solutions to be distributed over a large number of peers. If the cloud computing solution is not available then the user can continue working because the information can be retrieved from other peers. Afterwards changes are synchronized when the cloud computing solutions is accessible again.
P2P also allows computers to communicate and collaborate together without the need of a server. Sharing documents between a group of people to work on them collaboratively is possible via P2P. Afterwards Cloud Computing can be used as a backup of these collaboratively edited documents.
Show me the money
A lot of Cloud Computing solutions would benefit from having a local client available in case the user is not able to connect. Instead of having individual fat clients, there is room for a general platform that isolates the complexity of P2P and connecting to external services like clouds. Given the fact that these applications need a good internet connection, the safest bet is to have the operator offering this platform. The operator can make sure network speeds are optimal. On this platform third-parties can then offer their “P2P-Cloud Applications”. Think of it as an iPhone (=Peercling client) and an App Store for P2P Apps.
If you like the idea but need some more details, why don´t you contact the author at maarten at telruptive dot com?