Peer to Peer Computing

By Elias, Susan | Journal of Digital Information Management, March 2006 | Go to article overview
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Peer to Peer Computing


Elias, Susan, Journal of Digital Information Management


Peer to Peer Computing

The Evolution of a Disruptive Technology

Ramesh Subramanian, Brian D. Goodman

ISBN 1-59140-429-0 $74.95

Idea Ggroup Publishing

Hershey, London, Melbourne, Singapore

This book presents Peer-to-Peer (P2P) as a disruptive technology, organising its evolution into three sections with an excellent research focus in each of them.

Section I: There are four chapters in the first section titled--Then and Now : Understanding P2P Spirit, Networks, Content Distribution and Data Storage. The core concepts in P2P networking and content sharing are dealt with in Chapters I and II respectively. The characteristics of P2P networks that lead to the development of the three level model and the various resource management aspects when dealing with information, files, bandwidth, processor cycles and storage have been well documented here with references to research activities in each of them. The architecture and protocol design of four popular P2P systems Napster, Gnutella, Fasttrack and OpenFT that were used for content sharing have been described. A comparative study of the above systems based on scalability, anonymity, security, fault tolerance and several other issues is the highlight of this section as it would serve as a guide to designers and developers of P2P systems. The second half of this section deals with management of data and information and is presented in Chapters III & IV respectively. The chapter on data management deals with the design aspects of P2P systems for backup and recovery services and analysis the reliability of P2P systems when used for data management. The existing information storage and discovery systems are broadly classified as Data Lookup Systems and Search Systems. Data Lookup Systems are those that provide guaranteed services in terms of finding the information, if it exists in the system, in a bounded number of hops. The Search Systems on the other hand can handle complex queries but provide only loose guarantees for unstructured systems and strong guarantees for structured systems. Most of the existing Data Lookup Systems employ lookup protocols that are based on the Distributed Hash Tables (DHTs). These systems have been well documented while one of them referred to as Squid --a popular P2P information discovery system, has been described in detail.

Section II : titled Systems and Assets : Issues Arising from Decentralised Networks in Security and Law consists of four chapters focussing on security aspects ranging from security of the P2P network to the potential security issues related to the database it contains. The issues of security from a standpoint of trust are presented well in chapter VII. The security aspects in P2P systems significantly rely on trust. Building trust into P2P systems by innovative designs and extensions to existing trust and security mechanisms is an active area of research while the discussion on "who owns the P2P systems" could help to trigger future research that would provide fruitful insights on the identity and ownership issues.

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