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Practical JXTA II

Practical JXTA II

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Published by Jérôme Verstrynge
This book is an introduction to the JXTA P2P protocol. It is written for software developers and architects willing to understand what P2P is all about, and those looking for code examples explaining how to use JXSE, step-by-step.
This book is an introduction to the JXTA P2P protocol. It is written for software developers and architects willing to understand what P2P is all about, and those looking for code examples explaining how to use JXSE, step-by-step.

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Published by: Jérôme Verstrynge on Jan 25, 2011
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09/06/2015

At the beginning of the millennium, the initial objectives of P2P were multiple. They started with
chatting, then with file sharing and escaping central server computers in general. However, these
early objectives obscured another goal of P2P application: distributed computing.

One of the most successful examples is the SETI@home project10

. Internet users can download a
free program that would use the idle time of their computer to analyze radio telescope data. When
finished, the results are sent back to a central server and new data is downloaded for analysis. Al-
though this application is not P2P in its design, it illustrates how many computers can solve a
large divisible problem. A real-life example of divisible problems is mowing the lawn. One person
can do it alone or several can simultaneously do it by taking care of a part of the yard.

There are some indivisible problems, such as checking one's account balance when withdrawing
money. You need to centralize all account transactions in one location in order to compute the bal-
ance and make sure there is money available when performing the withdrawal. However checking
many balance accounts is a divisible problem: the account checking can be spread over a set of
computers. Each account can be verified simultaneously. In general, indivisible problems are bet-
ter served in a client/server model and divisible problems in a P2P model.

One will notice that, excluding semantics, grid computing and a P2P network of computers per-
forming distributed computing is virtually the same thing. Both systems have to satisfy the same
core needs to locate resources, request services, access, exchange and collect information re-
motely.

A surprising evolution of P2P is Skype, the application allowing us to phone for free with our com-
puter anywhere around the world. This ground breaking technology has had a tremendous impact
on the telecoms industry. Today, some are trying to develop P2P television, but they are facing is-
sues with network bandwidth availability.

To summarize it, P2P is the last extremity of a continuum starting from the mainframe-terminal
concept and going forward to the client-server, multi-tier, SOA and cloud computing concepts. As
much as a single mainframe is impractical to use by many, as set of pure P2P devices are imprac-
tical to operate globally. So far, all successful operational systems and architectures have been

10http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/

Introduction What is P2P? - 29

implemented somewhere between those two extremities.

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