CacheLogic Study – P2P is Changing

Some trends stick around while others undergo massive changes. Cachelogic released a study recently on just what is really going on in the world of P2P.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

In the recent analysis, CacheLogic stated that they used a “unique, layer-7 Deep Packet Inspection”. They said that they provide “insight and analysis to industry leading analyst groups and press upon request” and “provides previously unseen Internet traffic analysis”.

Cache logic has noted that in 2004, and the first half of 2005, they saw a period of mass disruption and change in the P2P (Peer-2-Peer) world. The 2004 study showed:

BitTorrent as the largest P2P network, in terms of data transfer, after the legal pressure surrounding Kazaa.

A shift in demand away from music towards video.

They also noted the following:

By the end of 2004, BitTorrent was accounting for as much as 30% of all Internet traffic.

December 2004 saw a crackdown on the major BitTorrent sites (Suprnova and others).

Interestingly, the MGM vs. Grokster case did not result in a rapid decline in P2P usage.

Launch of numerous legal alternative services utilizing P2P technology, such as PeerImpact, Mashboxx and iMP.

P2P still represented 60% of Internet Traffic at the end of 2004. It outstrips every other communication and distribution protocol and is still growing. It was compared to E-mail, FTP and the Web in general. The report also had a breakdown of 29 countries in terms of P2P bandwidth usage by percentage.

With the data collected, CacheLogic has interpreted the results with the following:

In many geographies, the majority of the traffic has shifted towards an alternative network, mostly from BitTorrent to eDonkey.

-eDonkey has been localized to a wide range of languages.
-eDonkey is fully decentralized, there are no “tracker” sites to shut down (However, it is worthy to note that eDonkey has severs that are used to help host the traffic).
This is almost assuredly a result of the increased legal action toward the once-ignored BitTorrent – a game of P2P ‘hide-and-seek’.

BitTorrent traffic levels have been dramatically affected by the closure of the key tracker sites, however this was not an immediate occurrence. A fully decentralized version of BitTorrent known as eXeem was expected to rocket in popularity.

oday eXeem accounts for less than 1% of the BitTorrent traffic, this could have been due to the authors decision to include spyware technology at launch, one of the key factors in the decline of Kazaa along with the legal pressures.
Asia is still predominantly BitTorrent with notable exception of South Korea, which has wholeheartedly embraced eDonkey. This is likely to be due to the widespread use of Pruna, a localized version of eDonkey.

USA has seen a growth in eDonkey and (surprisingly) Gnutella.

-eDonkey network if fully decentralized and therefore difficult to shutdown.

-Gnutella was once seen as dead so may be off the radar of the MPAA/RIAA, – proof that legal pressure from industry groups results in the mass migration of file sharers to an alternative network, whether old or new. This cat and mouse game will continue.

“It would be a mistake to think that because a particular technology can be used to distribute illegal copies therefore you should just run away from it.” said “father of the internet” Vint Cerf.

“It’s only a matter of time before Hollywood accepts that there is no ‘magic bullet’ to combat peer-to-peer piracy and then starts to embrace it.” comments Andrew Parker, vice-president of Forrester Research.

Dan Glickman, President and CEO of the MPAA admits, “Peer-to-peer technology is here to stay… What’s more, the film industry will have to come up with a ‘reasonable-cost’, hassle-free way for people to download movies legally for it to continue to prosper.”

The question remains, however, what are people sharing on P2P lately and where?

CacheLogic observed a “dominance of eDonkey and BitTorrent usage” and a “high level of audio files being exchanged on the Gnutella network.”

The top 3 audio formats that are weighted by volume of traffic generated on each network are .OGG at 12.3%, “Microsoft audio files” at 22.81% and MP3’s at a massive 64.89%. Despite these numbers, this represents 11.35% of the total P2P traffic.

CacheLogic observed a “relatively high level of OGG files – almost exclusively found on the BitTorrent network – particularly in Asia.

Meanwhile the top three video formats are “Realtime Media” at 8.84%, MPEG’s at 15.21% and “Microsoft Video Files” at 75.95%. Video files soak up 61.44% of total P2P traffic on each network.

Cachelogic noted the following:

Files sizes dramatically vary from network to network.

Gnutella and FastTrack are dominated by small files.

eDonkey and BitTorrent are dominated by large files.

Partly driven by suitability of individual networks to deliver large objects efficiently.

What about the remaining traffic? Well, the remaining 27.22% of the traffic is conveniently shelved in the category of “other”. The files and percentages of each are:

Executables – 2.83%

CDimages – 11.9%

Images – 13.25%

Compressed archives – 38.91%

Other file types – 33.54%

All of this traffic is having a large impact on ISP’s (Internet Service Providers). The following notes were made:

ISP’s can not afford to block or restrict P2P.

ISPd must intelligently manage P2P.

P2P is THE dominant protocol.

-In excess of 92% of P2P traffic crosses transit/peering links.
-P2P protocols will AGGRESIVELY CONSUME any available bandwidth capacity.
-Due to P2P’s symmetrical nature on average 80% of upstream capacity is consumed by P2P.
P2P affects Quality of Service levels for all subscribers.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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