Expanding to business use

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2005-03-10 Print this article Print

BitTorrent is much more, though, than just the latest craze for hijacking movies and TV shows. It is also proving useful for delivering the large ISO images of operating systems, applications and major patches. For example, the Linux Mirror Project makes it possible to use BitTorrent to download most popular Linux distributions, including Mandrake, Red Hats Fedora and Novell/SUSE, at rates that are usually speedier than those provided by FTP or HTTP.

This new edition makes it much more attractive for business use. While it now boasts an improved interface and more granular control for the client, by far the most important new feature for administrators is that BitTorrent packets are marked as bulk data.

This last feature makes managing BitTorrent traffic a snap. In the past, service providers would need special appliances, like Sandvine Inc.s Peer to Peer Element 8200 or Allot Communications enterprise line for network administrators, to manage it.

General-purpose traffic management tools, such as Lightspeed Systems Inc.s Total Traffic Control, can be used to manage BitTorrent traffic.

No matter what was used for traffic management, short of stopping BitTorrent entirely by blocking its TCP ports with a firewall, management was necessary. Otherwise, its sheer volume of traffic was likely to slow down networks and make such latency-sensitive applications as VOIP (voice over IP) unusable.

Click here to read more about BitTorrent and RSS straining the boundaries of their infrastructure. By marking its traffic as bulk, as does newer versions of FTP, almost any network traffic tool can easily be used to manage BitTorrents traffic. Its possible to successfully control BitTorrent traffic with the common iproute2 tools, which are available on almost all modern versions of Linux.

The new version also performs better on local networks. With earlier versions, network congestion was possible even when BitTorrent traffic was only moving at single-digit Kbps rates. With 4.0, that problem has gone away.

Other programs, such as Azureus, a Java-based P2P client, and BitTornado also use the BitTorrent protocol. These tend to have more features than Cohens original BitTorrent, but this new versions ease of traffic manageability both for the end-user and the network administrator make it the P2P client of choice for professional environments.

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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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