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P2P networking is an emerging distributed communication and resource-sharing paradigm that has become popular in the last couple of years thanks to Napster and similar file sharing solutions.

At the moment there exist several peer-to-peer system implementations on the market. These solutions are specialized for particular tasks. For example Gnutella is specifically devoted to file exchange, Napster was used for music exchange (mp3 files). On the other hand Freenet is dedicated to storing and retrieving files to and from a distributed file system. Free heaven provides similar functionality. Products based on the Fasttrack protocol stack (Morpheus, Kaaza etc) specialize in the distribution of multimedia materials (distributed storage, search, automatic metadata assignment etc).

While most P2P solutions focus on file / resources share between peers, other new projects focus on peer-to-peer communication like 1stWorks hotcomm product for chat and voice communication or BizPeer for B2C commerce.

The proprietary nature of these solutions has severe implications on the interoperability of these systems. In other words this means the users of different peer-to-peer solutions are unable to communicate between themselves. This global community of peer-to-peer users is therefore limited to communication within isolated islands whose boundaries are provided by the peer-to-peer system they are employing. This is in contradiction with what peer-to-peer technologies are for – unconstrained user to user communication and interaction.

In the beginning of 2001, Sun started a networking and computing platform called JXTA, which was open-sourced shortly thereafter. The JXTA technology has the potential to become the standard protocol stack for peer-to-peer communication.

As mentioned the JXTA protocols have the potential to become the standard in peer-to-peer communications abridging the problems of interoperability of existing peer-to-peer systems. 

For this reason the P2People project heavily builds on JXTA technology. This will eventually enable the P2People technology to be used for the communication and internetworking of a large number of users due to a higher level of guaranteed interoperability. 

However the P2People project objective is to take the JXTA ambitions further. The P2People project will implement collaborative services, e-Payment technology and basic functionalities that are currently not provided by the JXTA framework.  

The main innovation of the P2People project comes from distinct project concepts: 

§     Common interests. The P2People project will provide services that will be “user interest” tailored. Common interest search engines that will be inbuilt in the P2People framework will enable users to discover each other based on their mutual interests. Most of the sharing P2P networks are based on the user publishing sharing resources in central servers or locals computers. In most innovative products the user publishes not only the name of the sharing file but also metadata to describe the file.

§       P2People is not about publishing descriptors of multimedia files, but it is about describing the user itself (profile), its interests, hobbies, experience and offerings to other people. But not only that, P2People proposes describing the way to communicate and collaborate with other users depending on the interests both users share.   

§      New core layer services. These services will provide functionality not existing in the JXTA framework that provides vital functionality such as: besides the common interest search-engine this includes, presence service, filtering, notification service, anti-spam mechanisms, etc.

§      Internet commerce requires new payment methods and systems and several have already been developed (CertaPay, ecount, emoneymail, etc). The above systems imply that they are peer-to-peer (P2P) payments but either they make transactions only via e-mail or they use classic e-commerce techniques (by using credit card numbers). But there is a distinction between P2P payments and P2P technology. With peer-to-peer, credit/debit card organizations do not know the rules. Because rules change, every user (a peer) is equal to any other user (another peer). Currently, there is no commerce on any P2P network. Our goal is to implement anonymous and secure financial transactions via P2People using or modifying and using widely acceptable electronic payment protocols such as PayPal. Our system will allow anybody to be a merchant or/and a customer at the same time with the same account. The system will be based on the following criteria: secure (anonymous payment - no credit card usage), widely available and peer-to-peer where each user will be able  to either send or/and receive payments without complicated registration procedures.

§       Integration. One of the main advancements in peer-to-peer communication brought up by P2People will come from the integration of services. The functionality of some of the services proposed in the P2People project (especially the collaborative services part) is already known and well established in the client-server as well as in the peer-to-peer environments. However all the services provided by the P2People platform will be highly integrated with the developed core services thus providing a higher user satisfaction and quality of services. A simple example of this would be: the system might decide autonomously to discard a message from a user that has been discovered to have a bad reputation and thus his message is likely not relevant to the user.

§       Another important argument in favor of the P2People concept is the following. The P2People platform will have a documented set of open APIs and services(P2People Open Framework) that will enable application developers to design complex peer-to-peer applications that will use the P2People services as building blocks. Thus the P2People could become a future peer-to-peer application development platform.


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Last updated: Octubre, 2003.