WebRTC Expert Feature

October 14, 2013

Peering 2.0

TMC CEO Rich Tehrani made me aware of peerCDN the other day, and I must say that I am excited to see a non-video/ voice implementation. If nothing else, it is a good change of pace, but beyond that it is a Web-oriented solution that – being based on JavaScript – takes advantage of HTML5. And last but not least, it is also a WebRTC data channel implementation, and thus provides the benefit of an optimized path to images.

Here is how Abi Raja and Feross Aboukhadijeh describe peerCDN:

“peerCDN is a peer-to-peer content delivery network (CDN) for the Web browser. peerCDN serves your site's static assets (like images, streaming videos, and file downloads) over a peer-to-peer network made up of the visitors currently on your site. It's completely powered by JavaScript — your visitors don't need to install anything!”

An easy-to-access demo is available, however I recommend that you instead copy the URL and place it into two different browsers running on your system. The demo is generic and it supports any site loading peerCDN’s simple JavaScript on the Web page, which you can find at https://peercdn.com/docs. It’s free, it’s simple, so why not? And the site indicates that for non-commercial use it will always be free. If you are a coder and want to get closer to the source, though, Abi offers some code on GitHub.

I assume that I cannot educate you better if you know about peer-to-peer, and if you don’t know about peer-to-peer just my writing the phrase here should serve as sufficient education (as, candidly, I am not sure I can do much better myself). peerCDN, however, has a do-no-harm perspective on content loading, so if the system does not have a peer image of the content, it is passive and allows you to go to the source. 

Based on what I know thus far, I think one of the best potential uses for peerCDN will be realized whenever a trend floods the Internet (e.g., Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl halftime wardrobe malfunction or Miley Cyrus taking the whole twerking thing a little too far), and such functionality is sure to make peerCDN a friend to existing CDN systems. Depending on how it is implemented, in fact, it could be a real boon to such trending sites as TMZ. Naturally, I am assuming scaling capabilities, however as the system is built with node.js in the background I am confident in that supposition.

I did not see anything about video on the peerCDN site, though with the ever-increasing popularity and ubiquity of short videos, I can certainly see a video player becoming associated with the system. For now, though, it’s exciting just to have something that is all about the data channel. I have sent Abi and Feross a note asking whether they intend to enable a public display of the peerID, as such an action would allow us to see some community website strategies, such as a LinkedIn-like “Do you know who your peers are?” Or a Twitter-ish “so-and-so is also following website XYZ.”

At day’s end, it is all about community, and I am glad for Feross and Abi’s contribution.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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