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Peer to Peer Technology

This paper first discusses the architecture and working of Peer to Peer (P2P) networks. It then identifies the major developments in P2P technology over the years. The growth potential for businesses using the P2P technology is also analyzed. Lastly the paper talks about some of the limitations of using P2P technology. Introduction In a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) network, all the workstations perform equal work responsibility. Unlike in a Client/Server network, the computers in a P2P network act as both client and servers. (Mitchell) There is no dedicated server.

P2P networks are mainly used to transfer files and other resources over several computers in a network. Though, at any one time one computer might act as Client initiating a resource request or as a Server satisfying the request. But all the computers in the network can perform this function. Broadly P2P networks can be classified according to their degree of centralization as decentralized and Centralized P2P networks. Figure 1 Decentralized P2P Network In a decentralized network all peers act as client and servers.

There is no centralized server. A search request is sent to one of the nodes and that node forwards the request to all its connected nodes. The propagation of request continues until the desired node is found. The desired node then transmits the requested information back through all the nodes through which the request was propagated. A direct connection is then eventually established between the requested and desired node. This network does not rely on a centralized server and is therefore more robust.

A failure of and one of the peer does not effects the other working of other peers. Also the network is flexible in terms that any peer can join the network at any time. However, the major draw back of this network is the high network traffic as the search request propagates to all the connected nodes. (Kim, 2006) Centralized P2P network In this type of a network there is a central server that maintains information directory about all the nodes in the network. These directories are updated every time a client logs on and off the network.

The node sends a search request to the central server which searches for the requested information in its information directories and sends the requested information to the peer. The peer that requested information can now directly connect with the peer that has the requested information. This network is efficient since the directories are updated continuously and the searched information is quickly available. There is no issue of congested network traffic as workload is distributed among the peers.

However the dependence on a central server means that the failure of this server affecting the performance of the over all network. (Kim, 2006) Developments in P2P Technology The earlier versions on P2P applications mainly focused on file sharing providing functionalities for sharing of data and resources also giving search facilities. With improvements in technology P2P applications came in the form of software distribution and Instant Messaging (IM) like BitTorrent and MSN Messenger. The latest development is the extension of P2P technology beyond simple file sharing.

This technology is now used for real time communications and streaming media. P2P application can be seen now not only in forms of file sharing but also in VOIP, Gaming and Streaming. (Sigurdsson, 2006) The latest buzz in P2P technology is the P2P web search engines. The idea is that instead of having a central server and a central search database, the technique of distributed search is used. In this type of search each peer in a network acts as a search repository having their local web crawler and index.

For any search query first the local repository is looked upon for the required result and if the result is not found then the next peer is queried. (Erton, 2007)The search results due to this development have become more up-to-date, comprehensive and cost efficient. P2P technology is also being implemented in mobile applications for IM, file sharing, VOIP and video streaming. Another example of this is PeerBox, a mobile social networking service which allows users to a mobile P2P access to watch upload and share files, music, videos and pictures. (Erton, 2007) Growth Potentials

There are several opportunities for people wanting to establish E-businesses over the internet by using P2P technology. One such prospect is the P2P enabled e-commerce. Instead of having a centralized system to trade goods and services, businesses should switch to P2P e commerce. (Erton, 2007)The centralized system has the risk of server failures but with P2P technology the system is more secure and efficient. Another option for businesses is to develop P2P web search engines as discussed above. These search engines are not only faster and scalable than conventional search engines but also cost effective.

The hassle of maintaining a centralized repository for a growing web population is eliminated. Also they allow the content to be personalized. Besides that, there is great potential for businesses to provide entertainment services like music, film and videos by establishing P2P networks and can compete against P2P giants like Napster, itunes, Skype, Gnutella and others. The only issue that needs to be tackled is to make sure that such businesses follow the piracy and copyright laws because today’s consumers want legal stuff.

Limitations of P2P Technology One of the major challenges for P2P technology is the illegal downloading of copyrighted material. With the increasing popularity of P2P applications like kaaza and limewire, online users share and download files, music and videos without following the laws for using copyrighted material. (Burger, 2007) This is increasing the conflict between online users and copyright holders. A second issue with the P2P technology is related to security of the networks. In a P2P network a lot of information is shared among the peers.

Online users need to trust the P2P application providers regarding the access to their personal information. A lot of times users find viruses and malicious software with the actual file being shared over the network. This can be a serious threat to the users and for the application itself. Since there is no single person that is responsible for the security breaches over such networks, therefore the control of such activities is also difficult. Thus the failure to control illegal activities can result in P2P business application providers facing legislative actions.

Moreover the absence of a sole authority in a P2P network makes the implementation of any new P2P application complicated. Besides this, other challenges include the authorization and management of content and efficient quality of service. (Sigurdsson, 2006) Conclusion The market for P2P technology is rapidly growing. P2P networks provide robust, scalable and less costly services compared to server based services. The technology is increasingly being used for real time communication which is now a necessity is today’s fast paced technological world.

A lot of research is being conducted on future potential applications of P2P technology. The aim is to completely eliminate centralized services which do not compete with the homogonously growing web. REFERENCES Andrew K. Burger. (2007 July 25th). Bringing P2P File-Sharing Out of the Shadows, Part 2. Retrieved February 5th, 2009 from http://www. ecommercetimes. com/story/58474. html Bradley Mitchell. P2P networking andP2P software. Retrieved February 6th, 2009, from http://compnetworking. about. com/od/p2ppeertopeer/a/p2pintroduction. htm Can Erton. (2007 April 3rd ).

P2P: Potential Future Applications. Retrieved February 5th, 2009 from http://www. readwriteweb. com/archives/p2p_potential_future_applications. php Gu Su Kim. ( 2006). A Reliable Peer Connection Scheme for Pure P2P Network Environments. Retrieved February 6th, 2009 from www. paper. ijcsns. org/07_book/200607/200607C09. pdf H. M Sigurdsson. (2006). Potentials and Challenges of Peer-to-Peer Based Content Distribution. Retrieved 5th February, 2009, from www. viskan. net/.. %5Cpublications%5CP2P_sigurdsson. pdf Figure 1: doshimodo. com/2007/10/23/p2p-the-war-gets-uglyer

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