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P2P Remains Dominant Protocol
June 21, 2007
Thomas Mennecke
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Last week, a press release was issued by Ellacotya that suggested something quite startling - HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, aka Web traffic) had for the first time in four years overtaken P2P traffic. The results were surprising, as BitTorrent alone has dominated the Internet with some estimates suggesting it can consume up to 60% of an ISP's traffic.

Yet within a few hours, Ellacotya's findings were quickly becoming headline news. Could it be true that YouTube, with its enormous popularity, had finally led Web traffic back to its previous glory?

Well there's Hertz, and there's not exactly. caught up with several past and present P2P tracking firms to see what was occurring in the P2P landscape. First on our list was CacheLogic. However, we quickly discovered that CacheLogic is no longer in the P2P traffic caching business and no longer collects statistics on Internet traffic. Second on our list was BigChampagne's CEO Eric Garland. BigChampagne analyzes the population and trends of different P2P and BitTorrent communities. However, they don’t compare HTTP to P2P traffic. To further our investigation, Eric suggested we contact the up-and-coming P2P data caching firm, Oversi. Additionally, we headed over to Sandvine, a network management solutions firm. Our research found that Oversi outrightly refuted Ellacotya's claim, while Sandvine’s was more similar.

Oversi, which just received an 8 million dollar capital investment from Cisco, is an Israeli based company that specializes in caching P2P traffic. This file-sharing friendly approach to managing bandwidth allows consumers to enjoy the technological advances of the Internet while also considering the needs of non-P2P Internet users. Oversi's technology accomplishes this by caching the most heavily requested P2P queries and keeping the requested traffic inside an ISP's network. Great success.

To get a more rounded picture of HTTP vs. P2P landscape, Eitan Efron, the VP of Marketing at Oversi gave us his perspective on the issue. As many already suspect, Oversi's perspective revealed that HTTP wasn't out pacing P2P, and in fact P2P was on the rise.

"In some regions (e.g. US) and specific ISPs, the HTTP and P2P have equaled (on average) and both stand at around 35-40%," Eitan told "But this [circumstance] is true for ISPs that heavily use traffic shapers and enforce heavy throttling of P2P (or for the few ISPs that charge by bandwidth). [It is]...interesting to note that even in these specific cases [that] P2P traffic continues to be on the rise"

Eitan articulated a significant point that others who picked up on Ellacotya's research didn't report. Because Ellacotya’s business focuses on traffic shaping (i.e. P2P blocking), Eitan feels their study would naturally contain less P2P traffic.

"As you can understand this report was done by a company that is selling traffic shapers which are used for heavy P2P throttling...they measured traffic patterns at their points of presence, so the numbers are obvious."

Reversing the study of Ellacotya, Eitan contends that in fact P2P traffic remains the dominant protocol of the Internet.

"We find the actual P2P numbers to be much higher (at least 50-60% of total traffic) in most regions and ISPs and in some cases to stand at 80% (even today)," Eitan told Slyck. "Another reason for the difference in numbers relates to the traffic you monitor and where you measure the traffic. Most ISPs that do use traffic shapers use them on a limited portion of their network. Most use traffic shaping to reduce their international these lines. [And] due to the heavy rate limiting, the portion of P2P is lower than overall numbers. But the international/interconnect lines are only a portion from the entire bandwidth within the ISP. If you take the portion of P2P in internal traffic and the peering points to other ISPs (points of little/lower pain) you will find totally different numbers. Here is where you will find much larger portions of P2P."

Sandvine’s conclusion was more similar to Ellacotya's, however was not an outright endorsement. They did find however, that HTTP traffic is making significant gains thanks to YouTube and iTunes. Interestingly, Sandvine also points out that NTTP traffic, otherwise known as the Newsgroups, is making modest gains.

“Sandvine has been seeing a relative increase in HTTP traffic on service provider networks globally,” Paul Kilbank, director of products and solutions marketing told "In a short period, HTTP traffic has grown to rival P2P file-sharing as the leading consumer of network bandwidth. This is mainly due to popular content sources such as MySpace, YouTube, iTunes and other multimedia content providers. It's also interesting to see NNTP traffic continuing at a modest level as an alternative way to exchange large video files beyond common P2P file sharing applications such as BitTorrent and Edonkey. Yet another recent development is growth in network storage traffic as network users adopt new ways to exchange files among family, friends and colleagues, or simply to backup their PC data offsite."

"All these trends highlight that content is king - people will quickly embrace new applications and services that are rich in content and easy to use. We fully expect the growth in HTTP-based audio and video streaming to accelerate with the constant emergence of new content providers."

The lesson learned here is that it’s too soon to jump on the “HTTP has exceeded P2P” bandwagon. P2P traffic still appears to be the dominant protocol, and perhaps most importantly, the Newsgroups continue to be a force to reckon with.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
File-Sharing/P2P Related :: Studies/Research
File-Sharing/P2P Related :: Statistics/Analysis

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