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Summary:

Don’t blame me for getting caught up in the whole hoopla around media-buying-media…we media types are known for being narcissists. Blame me for not being able to blog about the new beta of Adobe Flash Player 10, which has built-in P2P features and is able to […]

Don’t blame me for getting caught up in the whole hoopla around media-buying-media…we media types are known for being narcissists. Blame me for not being able to blog about the new beta of Adobe Flash Player 10, which has built-in P2P features and is able to save files to the local drives. I was reminded by Hank Williams about the new release, and its big impact on the world of video in particular and other web apps in general.As some of you might remember, I wrote about Adobe’s P2P ambitions that revolved around buying a company called Amicima.


Through LinkedIn, we were able to find that amicima co-founder Mathew Kaufman has been working as Senior Computer Scientist for Adobe since October 2006. His co-founder, Michael Thornburgh, is also said to be at Adobe. Both of them have vast experience in networking and P2P technologies. The two of them worked at Tycho Networks, and later at DSL.net, after that company acquired Tycho.

I have been following this closely, and my sources say that this is a solid technology with the potential to seriously disrupt the CDN market, especially those companies that rely on clients. I wonder, for example, what will happen to RedSwoosh, which is owned by Akamai, or to other, similar providers of P2P-based client services. I think one shouldn’t get caught up in the CDN-killer aspect of this technology.

From what I have learnt, there are some elements of this technology that make it necessary to have a server infrastructure for situations where traversing NAT’s/Firewalls isn’t possible. It also needs a centralized registrar is also needed that maintains the ID’s of all the P2P clients (nodes) connected to a service. In other words, a CDN operator work with Adobe, charging for traffic that goes through their proxies as and when needed by the Flash 10. By the way Adobe has an arrangement with Kontiki, a CDN operator of sorts.

Williams’ post digs deeper into this in a thoughtful, intelligent way. “[I]s the innovation that will be unleashed by making P2P technology an assumed part of the web protocol stack?” he wonders. (I think that’s why it’s important that we start harping about upload speeds on our broadband connections.)

The reason we should pay attention to this product is Adobe’s distribution strength. The company can easily upgrade its Flash clients and instantly become owner of one of the largest P2P services. What that means is that now anyone can contemplate a Joost-like service that works within a browser. Using AIR to extend those P2P abilities to the desktop would be fairly easy as well. Ironically, both Joost and Jaman have spent considerable time, money and attention doing this.

The early version of Flash is rather simple, but it does offer a way to lower bandwidth costs while still delivering high-quality video. In addition, companies like Tokbox (our story) and Woome (NTV story) can add more functionality, such as cheaper, live video-voice service, without spending too much money.

It’s clear that Adobe is not going to become a huge P2P service overnight. But this release does portend to an interesting future.

PS: If anyone wants to share their thoughts, please leave a comment or drop me an email.

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  1. Flash P2P, Coming Your (and Everyone Else’s) Way « NewTeeVee Thursday, May 15, 2008

    [...] Because of Adobe’s distribution strength, it can easily upgrade its Flash clients and instantly become owner of one of the largest P2P services. What that means is that now anyone can contemplate a Joost-like service that works within a browser. Using AIR to extend those P2P abilities to the desktop would be fairly easy as well. Continue reading at GigaOM. [...]

  2. prefer not to say Friday, May 16, 2008

    after reading about flash player 10 P2P technology 2 days ago it kept my mind thinking about how would this affect application development and how it would affect Microsoft’s Silverlight! i think with a built in CDN companies might want to build their applications in flash since now the cost on the cloud could be reduced and companies could offer a richer experience using flash, another thing is that it might push companies to offer a free plan (as an entry plan) for using their applications because having a bigger user base will help those companies pay less for the cloud, now what about Silverlight? does microsoft need to take a similar step and build P2P into Silverlight?!! think yes.
    Adobe really took a smart step doing this.

  3. Thanks Om, once again I get the best info from GigaOm. Other sources that reviewed the new Flash player did not even mention this P2P feature.

  4. Mats Myrberg Friday, May 16, 2008

    This is really interesting. I think Microsoft’s answer is Live Mesh. I wrote my thoughts on the subject here:
    http://mmwp.wordpress.com/2008/04/23/live-mesh-the-ultimate-p2p-platform/

  5. FredCavazza.net » Première pré-version du Flash Player 10 Friday, May 16, 2008

    [...] à fait intéressante, et certains y voient même des possibilités d’usages détournés : Flash P2P: Now That’s Disruptive. Faire du P2P avec Flash ? Quelle drôle d’idée (quoi [...]

  6. Henry Sinnreich from Adobe has been active on the P2P-related IETF working groups for some time. He could never talk about what he was working on, but this certainly seemed like the most likely candidate. Given his participation in the groups, it’s likely this is SIP-based and possibly P2P-SIP based. If it’s using the P2P SIP stuff, then it’s almost entirely decentralized, even using distributed registrars. It’s unlikely Abobe would build that in to Flash given the security concerns, however, so their architecture remains an open question. As you say, NAT/firewall traversal requires an intermediary with a public address, most easily accomplished with central servers. It’s possible Adobe is firing up a server farm of SIP proxies and registrars for this purpose, although that would be at non-negligible expense.

    I e-mailed Henry this morning to see if he can clear any of this up further, so hopefully I’ll know more soon. My work at http://www.littleshoot.org uses a very similar architecture (you should definitely check it out), and I’ll be blogging about this at some point at http://adamfisk.wordpress.com.

    -Adam Fisk

  7. @ Adam Fisk

    I have been on the same trail for a long time, though I am wondering if they will ever get their SIP/VoIP act together. Any updates you can provide are handy. Drop me an email if you want to stay in touch.

  8. @Om
    I’ve been a silent reader of your postings on this topic for some time, Om. You’re the one person I’ve seen following it, and I agree it would be an unbelievably disruptive shift if they did it right. Henry is a powerhouse in the SIP community and a very smart guy, so they’ve got the personnel to pull it off. The biggest obstacles are the security and the privacy concerns with allowing incoming connections to the Flash player — turning Flash into a server.

    Henry and I have certainly had our differences at times (see the dizzying “What’s wrong with DNS?” thread at https://lists.cs.columbia.edu/pipermail/p2p-sip/2006-November/thread.html#1730), but he’s a top-notch engineer.

    I’ll let you know if I hear anything more from him or another friend on the Flash team, and I’ll certainly send an e-mail.

    -Adam Fisk

  9. P2P SIP and P2P CDN are completely different technologies.

  10. P2P in Flash 10 Beta – a YouTube, Skype, and BitTorrent Killer « Route 183 Friday, May 16, 2008

    [...] Williams and Om Malik have discussed the potential for Flash 10 to be used for P2P CDNs, and they’re largely right [...]

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