Re: OC Register

From: Strata Rose Chalup (
Date: Thu Feb 22 2001 - 17:19:28 PST

Gregory Alan Bolcer wrote:

> ...

> True P2P is when two people have P2P
> software and share files over the Web
> without the interference of a central server,
> which still is needed to provide Internet
> access.
> An office working on P2P could
> collaborate instantly. If one employee is at
> lunch with a cell phone and another is at
> the airport with only his Palm Pilot, they
> could simultaneously edit a power-point
> presentation on a third employee's personal
> computer.

One man's "interference" is another man's "lower MTBF".

The kind of P2P this author envisions is going to be a nightmare
for support staff and result in lower productivity and more frustration
for offices in general. An environment where desktop machines can
contain critical data is one which is infinitely more difficult to
back up-- there is a reason why there are file servers in an office.

Desktops are also more susceptible to viruses and to users installing
non-supported HW/SW on them (which usually causes trouble). The only
nice thing about this currently is that only two people get screwed
by this-- the desktop user him/herself and the poor bugger from IT or
IS who has to untangle the mess. Just wait until critical documents
are trapped on Joe Sixpack's machine when he nukes it with some lame
drivers from who knows where.

Then there's the load factor on the desktop itself. Suppose you're
crunching Excel spreadsheets, or running one of those "eat your box
alive" fancy report generators? When you're in the field waiting
to edit that document on your cellphone, that's not going to be
any fun for you. To say nothing of when good ol' Joe is staying
late at the office so he can fire up Flight Simulator 2000.

The other thing about desktops is that in order for them to be maintainable
at all from an IT/IS perspective, you have to be able to get at them
during off-hours. Big financials firms like Goldman Sachs actually
run jobs on many classes of desktops that completely wipe the box
overnight and reinstall the OS. Keeping the box in a known state is the
key. It's also how you keep people using current versions of software,
and make upgrades available without the unscaleable process of sending
an admin to somebody's desktop. Admittedly there are tools where you
can autokey upgrades to run when the user permits. But if you know that
folks are going to be trying to access your data from Singapore, suddenly
that 3am autoexec reboot job doesn't look so good.

P2P is a great concept, but not necessarily for business-critical data.
I think that the only feasible applications for P2P in key business
areas are ones where individual desktops store A copy, not THE copy,
of a file. Of course, then you get into locking and updating issues.
I'll be surprised if there isn't a CVS pserver or similar lurking under
the covers of the first P2P app to make it big in business.

More businesses could do well by running themselves on a mirroring basis
internally, with replications and referral-on-write. Then the P2Pness
would make a data finding mesh which pointed to a much smaller mesh of
places to actually get the data. A compromise from both perspectives,
but one which is much more maintainable in the long run. Servers are
servers for a reason. If you care about always getting to your data,
you have to do certain things, and those things are not desktop kinds
of things.

Fortunately there's a rich mix of data which is NOT mission critical
and which P2P apps can sequester on little desktop blackholes to their
hearts' content. :-)


Strata Rose Chalup [KF6NBZ]                      strata "@"
VirtualNet Consulting                  
 ** Project Management & Architecture for ISP/ASP Systems Integration **

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Apr 27 2001 - 23:18:16 PDT