P2P Goes to Work

Peer to peer will have its place in business but faces major obstacles

Peer-to-peer computing—the sharing of computer resources and services by direct exchange between systems—is more than just hip. Napster made P2P famous and showed how scalable and effective this technology could be for exchanging information. It also gave advance warning of the security, manageability and difficult enterprise integration hurdles that loom before P2P can truly benefit companies.

Judging from the parade of products coming into eWeek Labs, "peer to peer" has become a catchall phrase for everything from collaboration and content distribution to e-mail and file sharing applications.

P2P is an emerging technology that hasnt yet proved itself in the enterprise and, in many ways, is still just trying to get in the door. eWeek Labs recommends investigating P2P-based packages in the few areas they have reached some maturity—in particular, content management and group collaboration—for their innovative design.

However, the lack of P2P standards and the retraining process that groupware-oriented packages demand are going to be large stumbling blocks for the foreseeable future.

Our tests of Groove Networks Inc.s Groove 1.1 and NextPage Inc.s NXT 3 e-Content Platform show P2P can help organizations tap otherwise unused computing power and boost storage and bandwidth to free up server resources. These two recent arrivals take aim at different market segments: Groove 1.1 provides extended collaboration capabilities using P2P technology; NXT 3 e-Content Platform offers a content distribution portal for exchanging files.