Peer to peer technology is a key element in the delivery of online video. Julian Clover speaks to Cachelogic’s Andrew Parker, who is speeding the process.
Broadband is regularly cited as the saviour of cable. Although competitors have now caught up with their own triple play packages, cable’s ability to quickly roll out high speed internet was able to cement the customer relationship begun with the introduction of telephony.
The investment funds and private equity groups that back European cable would probably not be happy to admit that the success was built on illegal file sharing websites. “As much as they hated it, peer-to-peer was the killer application for broadband,” says Andrew Parker, CTO of Cambridge-based Cachelogic. “Peer to peer was seen as broadcast economics for the internet, but what you’re really doing is transferring your distribution costs to the world’s ISPs.”
Parker was one of the founders of Zeus Technology, the server infrastructure company that powers many a website, including this one. Cachelogic was established as a consultancy, until a chance conversation with Telewest revealed a problem in need of a genuine solution, as soon as an STM1 transmission network was provisioned it became full. Former Telewest chief executive Tony Illsley is now Cachelogic’s chairman.
CacheLogic’s CDN technology combines peer-to-peer networking with a network infrastructure alongside content management. Parker describes the technology as a hybrid between CDN (content delivery network) and traditional peer to peer. The system has already been picked up by Red Bee Media as part of its Sherpa navigation. It was also used by NTL as part of a technical trial involving BitTorrent, the former bête noire of file sharing that became a privately held.
Peer to peer is now an established part of online delivery and is an important component is the BBC iPlayer, the online catch-up TV service, due to finally be given its launch date in the next few weeks.
Parker is meanwhile looking at the next project that could revolve around a cross platform DRM. “Adobe has come along and said that Flash is now ubiquitous; does that create an opportunity for us” he asks? Flash based screens are used by YouTube and other sites. Video often pops up online when browsing through a wide variety of sites and more often than not this is powered by the Adobe technology.
Even before peer-to-peer has genuinely established itself the delivery mechanisms are already on the move.