Startup’s Streamsight Tracks P2P Traffic

CacheLogic is testing its new traffic-analysis appliance to help ISPs handle
rising peer-to-peer traffic on their networks. Through the process, the company uncovered
some interesting data about the worldwide P2P traffic.

Streamsight 510 inspects packets in real-time and reports
back to network operators how much of that traffic is P2P, including data
that masquerades as Web or e-mail applications.

“ISPs learn what combination of applications its customers are using, at
what time of day and which ones use the most bandwidth,” CacheLogic CTO
Andrew Parker told “With that, they can put
together offerings.”

So instead of a one-size-fits all broadband contract, an ISP may sell an
upgraded package with additional bandwidth at night when home users are
downloading music, videos and software.

The appliance, which costs $30,000 and can be deployed in minutes, has been
tested in large ISPs across the globe for the last six months. It will be
generally available in the fall and in full-production by year’s end.

Those trials have yielded some surprising information about P2P use, a
hot-button issue among the recording/film industries, ISPs, P2P network
operators, consumers and Congress.

CacheLogic found that BitTorrent has eclipsed KaZaA as the most popular P2P
protocol worldwide, consuming more network resources than any other network
applications. Other major players include Gnutella, FastTrack and eDonkey,
the latter of which is particularly strong in Europe because of multiple language
versions of its service.

Through Streamsight analysis, CacheLogic found that the total population
logged onto the major P2P networks at any one point in time is
approximately 8 million users, sharing more than 10 petabytes of data.
CacheLogic said that statistic refutes the myth that the P2P problem is caused by a few
heavy users.

The vast majority of this traffic is large files such as movies, rather than
MP3s, the focus of the record industry in its fight against copyright
infringement. In many circumstances, the typical file size is greater than
100Mb per file transfer.

And it’s not just media files. An increasing number of companies are using
P2P to distribute free software projects, notably Fedora, a community
version of Red Hat, which uses BitTorrent. The BBC is also piloting P2P
protocols to distribute content. From their point-of-view, using P2P models rather than having users
directly download from their sites shifts bandwidth costs onto the ISPs.

Legitimate collaboration applications such as Groove Networks also use P2P
architecture to help home and mobile workers stay connected
with their teams back in the office.

Jonathan Hirshon, a spokesman for the company, said the appliance does not
collect any information that can be used to identify end-users. He said
CacheLogic faces competition from networking heavyweights like Cisco and Juniper , which have been working on
their own packet-inspection tools.

UK-based CacheLogic is privately held and is venture-backed. It has only
about two dozen employees. Asked about increasing its number of employees and the need to
raise additional capital, CacheLogic’s Parker said, “A lot will depend on
the success of this effort.”

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