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What is peer-to-peer content distribution?

Answer
By Claudio Buttice | Last updated: May 20, 2021

Peer-to-peer (P2P) content distribution is a model that allows the distribution of files, videos, software or other applications

The Peer-to-Peer method entails the distribution of files and information directly between users (terminals) without going through a server

It is a highly distributed computing model that leverages unused available computer and storage capacity on endpoint devices to store and share content. P2P allows users to share data without using a local server infrastructure, and minimizes the amount of traffic that must traverse the wide area network (WAN) in getting content and updates to your end users. (Read How is IT infrastructure different from network infrastructure?)

Content may include any third-party applications such as Office 365 or Adobe, internally developed line of business applications, or operating systems that run on the enterprise endpoints. Endpoints can be anything that runs an operating system and the associated software, including desktop computers, PCs, kiosks, ATMs, point of sale terminals, etc.

A modern P2P content distribution system can intelligently distribute and pre-stage content so that a single download to a location will serve all the devices in that subnet. It can also manage the storage of multiple copies of content locally as well as make intelligent decisions and actions. The content cache should be managed efficiently to minimize the impact on end-user experience thorough disk consumption or CPU usage. (Read What is the difference between business applications and enterprise applications?)

Advanced peer-to-peer solutions must be aware of enterprise traffic capacity to prevent congestion and ensure that the content is distributed without conflicts with other enterprise traffic. They must also maintain a sufficiently stable connection in the most adverse conditions to ensure the completion of downloads regardless of quality of network or duration. (Read AI in Business: The Transfer of Expertise from Internet Companies to the Enterprise.)

Typically, this content distribution is happening in real time and simultaneously across hundreds or thousands of locations, precipitating the need for complete visibility and control. The operator must have the ability to view content as it’s being distributed by location or content type and, if the need arises, to pause, resume, or reprioritize the distribution flows.

P2P models have been suggested for decentralized online social network applications, frameworks and architectures as an alternative of the current centralized solutions. Rather than leaving the control of all the users’ information in the hands of the provider, who can do anything with that data as we already know, zero-trust P2P social networks could provide the so-much needed anonymity and resistance against censorship.

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Written by Claudio Buttice | Data Analyst, Contributor

Profile Picture of Claudio Buttice

Dr. Claudio Butticè, Pharm.D., is a former clinical and hospital pharmacist who worked for several public hospitals in Italy, as well as for the humanitarian NGO Emergency. He is now an accomplished book author who has written on topics such as medicine, technology, world poverty, human rights, and science for publishers such as SAGE Publishing, ABC-Clio, and Mission Bell Media. His latest book is "Universal Health Care" (Greenwood Publishing, 2019).

A data analyst and freelance journalist as well, many of his articles have been published in magazines such as Cracked, The Elephant, Digital Journal, The Ring of Fire, and Business Insider. Dr. Butticè also published pharmacology and psychology papers on several clinical journals, and works as a medical consultant and advisor for many companies across the globe.

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