Blog Post

P2P, Streaming and CDNs: What Will Really Work?

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

From the wondering-out-loud dept. comes this question: Is peer-to-peer (P2P) technology on the verge of radically changing the content-delivery marketplace? And if so, what does that mean for both content producers and content delivery networks — more opportunity, or threatened business models, or both all around?

While there’s no single news nugget to point to emphatically, a series of recent announcements, posts and observations all seem headed in the direction of a big collision between traditional CDNs, P2P technology and streaming video. Out of the pileup, we see the following questions that don’t yet have clear answers; but please feel free to provide some in the comments arena.

  • What happens to the traditional CDN business when P2P is added to the mix? According to this week’s news from CacheLogic, it means more flexibility and cheaper pricing for content providers. Akamai last month bought its own P2P play, RedSwoosh. And how do BitTorrent and upstart Neokast fit into the equation?
  • Does a combination of CDN and P2P solve some of the quality-of-service issues many service providers were predicting that heavy video use would bring? If so, what happens then to AT&T’s and Verizon’s IPTV business models, which were built somewhat on the idea of being able to charge premiums for faster video delivery?
  • When will Google and Cisco flex their considerable infrastructure muscle to take (even more) advantage of the growing demand for online video? On Wednesday Google took one step in that direction by making video search part of its powerful first page of results — wonder how that went over in Sumner Redstone’s office.
  • Cisco, meanwhile, confirmed its intentions this week to offer such networking services, which we had wondered about previously. Even as Cisco second-in-command Charlie Giancarlo tried to dispel notions that such a service would be consumer-pointed, or have a Cisco brand name, it’s clear now that the networking giant is going to move beyond boxes — but what does that mean to all its service-provider customers?
  • What are the new business models that better content delivery technology could enable, beyond Joost, Justin.TV and Ustream?
  • As you are crafting your opinions, some more P2P/CDN nuggets:

    — Most BitTorrent traffic is TV shows, not movies. (TorrentFreak)
    — Online media requires a hybrid approach? (Streaming Media)
    — New Flash Player will enable P2P for .FLV clips. (Beet.TV)
    — Can Joost overcome Infrastructure Problems? (NewTeeVee)
    — CDN Startups Talk Tough (Light Reading)

    So what do you think?


    11 Responses to “P2P, Streaming and CDNs: What Will Really Work?”

    1. 1-Click Media also uses hybrid CDN (HTTP/FTP) +P2P to deliver final users with DVD/HD quality videos cost efficiently.

      Our solution is able to push content to users, so you can develop a relationship with your final users (through subscription of content channels for example), and we can reach up to 90% of P2P in the distribution of some files !

      We are working with TV channels and have already 300 000 active users per month !

    2. The question of CDN vs P2P oversimplifies the landscape as the requirements for live, progressive streaming, and download are all different. Furthermore, the major driver for supplementing P2P with server capacity is lack of support for clients behind NATs. If 60% of peers are behind NATs, and none of those can contribute to the network, the P2P solution is 40% efficient at best. Lack of CDN capacity to subsidize an inefficient network manifests itself as poor QOS. BitTorrent and other download-only technologies don’t have a QOS requirement and can get away with more, but otherwise server-based capacity is here to stay.

    3. CDNs are a cost plus business. For CDNs, cost and therefore plus can be very large. For some CDNs, plus is bigger than others. In the P2P business, the cost number is small…very small. Consequently the cost plus model breaks down. Believe me. We think delivery should be only one facet of a product/service offering designed for specific market segments. At least that’s our story.

      CDNs will always be with us especially for long tail content. Unfortunately implicit in their current valuations are assumptions about unlimited traffic growth. That marginal growth is probably overstated because P2P companies will aggressively price their low cost services in competition for fat tail clients. (We are about 10% the cost of cheap CDNs.)

      The answer to your survey is CDN and P2P with P2P capturing most of the growth.

    4. Podmailing uses a hybrid network P2P + CDN and it’s the best way to reduce cost and guarantee the best quality of service for peak demand and for long tail content.
      I posted yesterday on VIPeers to explain these advantages.

    5. james pierce has instant full screen streaming. Bandwith is cheap these days. p2p streaming has too many buffering issues which is annoying to be worth while