Aug 3

Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

Skyrider: Commercializing P2P

A few weeks ago, I had dinner with my old friend Ed Kozel, and he gave me a peek at what's he's been working on, a new company called Skyrider that's building a platform for building commercial P2P services. Skyrider still isn't saying that much publicly about what they're doing -- their press release (to which I contributed a quote) is mainly socializing the idea that P2P networks haven't gone away and in fact, have become bigger than the web as a source of internet traffic -- but I can tell you that if they can pull off even 10% of their ambitious vision, it's going to have a heck of an impact. Just as Google crystallized a new vision of how to monetize the web, leading to the explosion of innovation that we now call Web 2.0, Skyrider is building technologies that could bring a rich new commercial ecosystem to P2P. I can't wait till they start actually rolling out their services.

Speaking of Web 2.0, it's worth noting that a lot of my thinking about what we're now calling Web 2.0 didn't start with the web at all. It started with peer-to-peer file sharing, which was one of the first applications to realize the full power of the internet as platform. After Napster burst onto the scene in 2000, O'Reilly editor Andy Oram wrote a couple of articles pointing out that P2P wasn't just about file sharing, and the legality or lack thereof, but about the next generation of Internet applications. That woke me up big time. As I'd done with the open source summit in 1998, I decided the best thing to do was to pull together some of the best minds working on this issue, and see what they had to say to each other.

(I wrote an account of that summit in my article Remaking the Peer to Peer Meme, which also appeared in the our 2001 book Peer to Peer. Those of you who have seen the "meme map" I did for What is Web 2.0? will see its roots in the earlier ones I did for open source and p2p, as outlined in that article. Andy also wrote an account under the provocative title "Peer to Peer Makes the Internet Interesting Again. Jon Udell also wrote a great first hand account of the P2P summit. Meanwhile, our first P2P Conference eventually morphed into both Etech and The Web 2.0 Conference.)

File sharing went underground because of legal issues, but the technology continued to develop, and became even more powerful. Now, we're seeing a new wave of startups that are finding ways to leverage the power of P2P while creating legitimate commercial opportunities. Skype, from the founders of Kazaa, took P2P into another, less controversial application. Skyrider looks P2P file sharing in the face, and asks, can we make the financial opportunities so obvious that content owners and distributors embrace it in the light of day? Stay tuned.

tags: web 2.0  | comments: 3   | Sphere It

Previous  |  Next

0 TrackBacks

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments: 3

  Isabel Wang [08.03.06 12:10 PM]

Tim - After reading your recent "open infrastructure" post, I looked up CoralCDN, and from there stumbled onto all kinds of P2P research. There was a 2001 MIT paper on Cooperative File System (for P2P read-only storage), a 2002 Berekely webpage on OceanStore (storage utility atop infrastructure of untrusted servers) and a more recently updated site for Pastry (application-indepedent overlay network for routing requests and locating data among P2P nodes).

But unlike CoralCDN, which Digg/SlashDot/ use to serve links, it doesn't look like any of the other work has been implemented for public use. Maybe some of the research was discontinued because of the controversy surrounding P2P? Given the venture funding RedSwoosh and Skyrider have received, now seems like a great time to commercialize these very interesting sounding projects.

  Idea, Execution, Profit [08.04.06 01:20 AM]

Google found a way to insert Ad in server based content. Similarly if Skyrider finds a way to add value for a few bytes more, it will spur a lot of innovation.

Google's prowess was with conquering Search with good old computer science. Skyrider's secret weapon would be computer science applied for Retrival!

How many CS PhD are working for Skyrider? And more importantly, how the number is expected to grow?
Fine graining retrival, just like how Google fine grained search and somehow made ads fine grained is going to happen in P2P space?

Rock On!
-Balaji S.

  Jorge [08.04.06 01:46 PM]

You don't need CS PhDs. You just need to be wicked fast, because sooner or later the major players will wake up. My opinion? Skyrider will come out with a bloated product, overkill. That's what happens when you spend 2 years developing a product and are financed up the wazoo.

Post A Comment:

 (please be patient, comments may take awhile to post)

Type the characters you see in the picture above.