It’s been a long time coming, but long after the days of Napster, Peer-to-Peer is making its grand return.
Well over a decade after tech titans such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook have pushed the Cloud as the solution to all our tech problems, de-centralization is making its triumphant return. Peer-to-peer (P2P) technology is a big reason for this new-found push.
Casual net surfers may remember P2P for its illicit use of file sharing during the late 90s/early 00s. Heck, maybe a few still use BitTorrent to this day.
But what is P2P exactly?
Here’s a brief review.
When you say the word internet, it basically means an interconnection of computers around the world using standardized communication protocols. There are two types of network architectures that support the exchange of information over a network, namely P2P and server-client cloud-based network.
A P2P network refers to any number of computers connected to each other, sharing resources sans fixed servers. A network that identifies as peer to peer allows every computer in the network to act as both clients and servers. This is the basic difference between a client-server model and a peer to peer model.
So what’s changed?
To sum it up, blockchain has drastically re-aligned what’s possible with P2P. Whereas previously the client-server cloud paradigm had the advantage of greater trust, this is no longer the case.
With blockchain technology, it’s now possible to establish even stronger relationships of trust with nomadic devices — which is very important in this smartphone age — through a de-centralized ledger that contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, along with a timestamp record and transaction data.
The application of blockchain technology that gets the most press is cryptocurrency but there’s more possibilities. Blockchain is now being used to verify contracts, validate ownership of digital assets, and now corroborate social media relationships.
This is just the beginning
Blockchain has certainly made P2P exciting, but there’s more. Write Once Read Many (WORM) methods of storage combined with mesh networking has made it possible for emerging start-ups to cut out Big Data as the middleman.
For example, if you’re a clothing retailer, you should be worried about using Amazon for cloud storage. Amazon is your competition, and any data you give them could be later used against you. Is the Cloud therefore a suitable solution? It might be useful today, but in the long term, not so much.
While this application of P2P is certainly bleeding edge stuff, the definition of emerging tech, it’s worth considering how P2P is once again going to change the world.