RE: ARTICLE: Despite the buzz, peer-to-peer startups lack busines s benefits

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From: Jeffrey Kay (jkay@ENGENIA.COM)
Date: Thu Dec 21 2000 - 18:59:47 PST

I agree that Napster does solve (partly) a problem of not having a server
farm with a distributed file system of sorts, but Napster didn't get noticed
because of the peer architecture -- it was primarily because of the value of
moving music files between systems. This very same system could be achieved
without a fat pipe or big server by using something as mundane as archie and
ftp. (One could argue that this is all Napster really is.)

But that really wasn't my point anyway. I don't know either what particular
problem Shawn was trying to solve with this architecture, but I do know that
when I first looked at the system I believed that it was to circumvent the
copyright laws. In fact, Shawn must have had some sort of server access to
create the index system that allows everyone to search for music. But while
Napster has sparked interest in the p2p movement, it doesn't really
represent a different way of doing business because the end result of having
a centralized server versus a distributed set of files makes little
difference to the real end user in this case. In the case of SETI, however,
the whole point is to tap unused CPU resources. Napster isn't about tapping
unused hard disk space, really -- as a user of the system, you are expected
to download the files that you play. You could argue that many users
benefit from the generosity of others supplying their fully connected, high
bandwidth system with large hard drives. But is that really p2p? Or a
search engine that targets a very specific set of servers?

This reminds me of the early, early days of p2p networking. Remember
Artisoft? Serverless environment with purposed file sharing. Sort of what
Windows for Workgroups networking did a bit later.

Interesting stuff to consider, though. Without some serious effort on the
p2p to self-define in a non-fuzzy way, it has all the likelihood of becoming
what the KM industry is -- anyone that wants to call themselves KM, is. As
a founder of a p2p company, I wrestle with these issues every day.

-- jeffrey kay
-- cto, engenia software, inc.

-----Original Message-----
From: Matt Jensen
To: Jeffrey Kay
Cc: ''; ''
Sent: 12/21/00 2:25 PM
Subject: RE: ARTICLE: Despite the buzz, peer-to-peer startups lack busines s

On Thu, 21 Dec 2000, Jeffrey Kay wrote:

> I think Napster is actually a pretty poor example of P2P. Napster has
> educated the greater community that P2P exists, but it really doesn't
> represent it because the value proposition of Napster is independent
of the
> P2P infrastructure on which it runs. In all reality, Napster could
> been just fine running as a single server farm with millions of
> users had there not been copyright law to circumvent.

You're saying Napster could have been done by anyone with a big server
farm and a fat pipe? Isn't that true of most P2P projects? Couldn't
be run on a big Beowulf cluster at NASA? I think the point of Napster
that Shawn didn't have a server farm, and didn't have a fat pipe, and
P2P allowed the users to get around that resource limitation.

I don't know whether, historically, Shawn thought of the resources first
or the (alleged) copyright circumvention first, but even if there were
copyright issues, P2P file sharing let them solve a problem through
when they couldn't afford a centralized solution.

-Matt Jensen

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