CDNs Adopting P2P

3:10 PM -- Last week's announcement that Internap Network Services Corp. (Nasdaq: INAP) will offer peer-to-peer (P2P) content delivery services threw more weight behind P2P as a legitimate vehicle for the delivery of large media files. (See Internap Offers P2P CDN.)

Phil Kaplan, chief strategy officer of Internap, says there were three main problems with traditional P2P technology: "The technology was not reliable; there were security problems, including issues of piracy; and there was no business intelligence built in."

As a result, Kaplan says, "any marketer of high-quality content is going to wait" before offering content over such platforms.

John Dillon, chief marketing officer of CDN CacheLogic , which also offers P2P-based content delivery services, says that "for the uneducated, peer-to-peer spells the enemy, and it's the dark side of the industry. From that perception, it's a challenge to overcome."

But that's changing, both agree, as content owners increasingly look for cheaper ways to deliver large media files to end users.

Dillon says, "What gets us in the door is the economics. But we also offer performance and the ability to deliver what subscribers expect," in a way that he believes traditional HTTP-based CDNs cannot.

Traditional CDNs are beginning to get into the P2P game. Internap's partnership with Pando, for instance, came about six months after industry heavyweight Akamai Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: AKAM) purchased P2P content distributor Red Swoosh in April. (See Akamai Swoops on Red Swoosh.)

While content owners are happy with the cost savings that come from using P2P as a way to cut down transport costs, there's still some question of how ISPs will react to paying peering fees for delivery of content that doesn't bring in any direct revenue.

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), for instance, has taken a lot of heat lately for blocking its subscribers from seeding BitTorrent files. (See Comcast Takes on TorrentFreak, Comcast & P2P, Redux, and Comcast's P2P Problem.)

Kaplan says network providers "will always be able to control the traffic that goes over their networks. They could shut down CDNs, but why would they?

"Most peer-to-peer technologies out there are uploading and downloading all kinds of stuff. That's what really pisses the network operators off. But we're only going to download what the user tells it to."

Dillon says that content owners and ISPs need to figure out a way to ensure that the service providers delivering access to end users are rewarded beyond the flat fees that subscribers pay: "The broader issue for ISPs is how to get into the value chain for video delivery. Every piece of the delivery chain needs to be rewarded."

— Ryan Lawler, Reporter, Light Reading

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