Power to the people

power.gif Until recently, P2P was infamous mainly for its use for piracy and as a conduit for spreading malware. But with the exponential growth in digital media consumption (how much storage are you using just for digital photos, music and video?), the client-server model breaks down. You simply cannot, not even if you’re Google, store all the music and videos produced everywhere around the world on your servers, and still not charge anything for it.

So lately, we have been seeing some very exciting developments. We’ve seen a BitTorrent-like service pilot by AOL, aimed at distributing videos to many subscribers efficiently and cheaply (http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=88118&WT.svl=news2_1). Another interesting development is from startup FON (http://www.redherring.com/Article.aspx?a=15604&hed=Google%2C+Skype+Make+Wi-Fi+FON&sector=Industries&subsector=VentureCapital). With FON, any individual can choose to share his or her WiFi connection with others in the FON community, thereby generating a worldwide WiFi access network owned by its subcribers. And lastly, of course, there’s BeInSync, which makes use of P2P technology to enable people to securely access and share unlimited amounts of data without storing it on servers.

So, it seems the power is shifting to the people. The end points, or peers, become important, while large server are becoming a thing of the past. Perhaps that’s what P2P really stands for, Power-2-People. Using new P2P techniques, people will be able access the Internet from anywhere, securely access and share files of any size across network boundaries, distribute any size data to any number of people, and I’m sure there’s much more to come.

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