Easing the network pressure caused by P2P file-sharing

Easing the network pressure caused by P2P file-sharing

From an interesting Tech Review article: “As the music downloading frenzy continues unabated, Internet service providers (ISPs) are finding their infrastructure and business models imperiled.  The main threat comes from the popularity of peer-to-peer programs such as Kazaa, which connect users without using a server. ‘Peer-to-peer activity corresponds to at least one fifth of Internet traffic and is likely to continue to grow relentlessly in the future’ says University of California, Riverside researcher Thomas Karagiannis,  who works with the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis on measuring peer-to-peer traffic.”

The article also has a lovely, informative side-bar explaining the P2P protocol issue:

“One reason that peer-to-peer traffic is clogging the  Internet is that the protocols used are not designed to minimize the number of bytes. On the contrary, since sending data through the Net is essentially free, programmers optimize other parameters, such as speed.

Skype, Grokster, and Kazaa use a protocol called FastTrack. Other peer-to-peer systems, including BearShare, Morpheus, and LimeWire, use another one, called Gnutella. These protocols use different ways to send queries and retrieve information[~]and these differences have a distinct effect on how much traffic is needed to transmit a song or movie from one network user to another.

Per Brand, leader at the Distributed Systems Laboratory at the Swedish Institute of Computer Science in Stockholm, says peer-to-peer file sharing traffic in Sweden can consume as much as 85 percent of a typical ISP’s capacity. Brand, who is involved with the largest European-based research effort on distributed storage, says that inadequate protocol design carries much of the blame. [base “]Gnutella is both brilliant and completely brain dead,[per thou] he says. Its peer-to-peer protocol is smart in the way information is spread out, but stupid in the way it uses up bandwidth with sending questions asking where the information is located.

Improved protocols would spread out both the information and the traffic so that the both the network and its computers are used more efficiently. The goal, in effect, is to design a system that has the best properties of peer-to-peer without its drawbacks. It is like combining Kazaa and Peercache in one. If the research succeeds, Joltid and its competitors will have one less product to sell.”