Pioneers in peer-to-peer technology here Wednesday wrestled with the future of the technology amid the specter of its imminent demise.
Speaking on a peer-to-peer panel at InfoWorld's CTO Forum, Groove Networks founder Ray Ozzie refuted the idea being circulated in the mainstream media that Napster's demise signaled trouble for the technology.
"I've always viewed different technology as a means to an end, not an end in itself," said Ozzie. He said it was "puzzling" that p-to-p technology continues to receive so much attention when most organisations are investigating alternative, decentralised technologies for communication and collaboration.
Dan Bricklin, founder of Trellix Corp. agrees, saying, "P-to-p isn't just for file sharing." He said wireless technology based on the 802.11b standard is one example of a technology that will drive demand for p-to-p communication and collaboration between individuals, but in a decentralised ad hoc manner.
"We have to assume individuals are going to be sending a lot of stuff directly to each other, not via a central server," he said.
Dan Werthimer, chief scientist at SETI@home (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), explained that his project has created the world's largest supercomputer by using the "spare" resources of millions of individual's PCs to process data collected from space. This, he argued, is one of the best examples of p-to-p technology in practice.
However, where the enterprise is concerned, security and scalability loom as the largest issues to be tackled, Werthimer said. In addition to that, panel moderator Glenn Ricart noted, "We're seeing more and more caching moving to the edge of the network."
According to Ozzie, inventor of Lotus Notes, the security technology already exists to enable p-to-p communication securely across the firewall. But the biggest issue is establishing if either centralised or decentralised control will serve as the best model inside the enterprise.
"My experience with Notes is the biggest single issue with any technology is the people," he said. Users forget to check encryption logs or other basic security functions. "Security should always be on," he said.
As for the future of p-to-p, Ozzie believes "You won't be talking about p-to-p." Bricklin added, "You won't be talking about this [topic] using p-to-p."