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peerCDN – Feross Aboukhadijeh

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke



Analysts who predict that the market for CDN services will be > $7.0 billion by 2017 obviously haven’t met Feross Aboukhadijeh, the founder of peerCDN, whose service offering has all the classic disruptive factors to mean anything but smooth sailing for the likes of Akamai and Limelight. Ignore at your own peril.

I recently interviewed Feross who is all of 22 years old or as the Javascript on his webpage calculates – 8,321 days old. In his short time, he’s created a number of disruptive applications. Check out his web page for more details. This is clearly someone to keep your eyes on.

Feross felt like he’d unearthed a gem when he stumbled upon WebRTC. An idea hit him, but no, not in the over played voice/video arena, but one that would utilize WebRTC’s data channel. Finally, I screamed! He realized that media intensive websites were often paying big $$$ for Internet bandwidth and/or CDN to ensure a speedy response and worse the servers groaned under the heavy load when a bunch of users showed up. The challenge save bandwidth and actually use the load to some advantage. peerCDN was born.

peerCDN is fundamentally BitTorrent/PTP “like” client. With the insertion of a single line of HTML code, your web site is peerCDN enabled, that easy. Afterwards, a web visitor triggers a notification to the peerCDN’s tracking server that they are visiting that page.  If someone else visits this page at the same time, peerCDN automatically sets up a connection and quietly streams the data between the peers. In effect, your current visitors become the content delivery network (CDN) to newly arrived visitors. Pretty cool stuff.

Check out this demo

My own 8-bit processor got overloaded as Feross explained to me the various security precautions that PeerCDN takes to ensure that the shared data is authentic and not subject to hijack. Feross should know, he has a bit of a history of exploiting security holes in browsers. Who better to trust than a hacker?

What Feross liked was that WebRTC’s encrypted data channel took a big load off the development of peerCDN to allow them to focus on the underlying application. peerCDN works on all WebRTC-enabled browsers and is smart enough to stay out of the way if the browser is non-WebRTC enabled. Because peerCDN doesn’t access your camera or microphone, you don’t get the ALLOW/DENY buttons that you typically see for a communication session. In fact, this blog site is using peerCDN right now (open the source to check it out)!

peerCDN obviously makes the most sense to a heavily visited and media rich web site. The more visitors the better, in fact. The service is free today and they’re looking for beta customers. Since all peerCDN has to run is the tracker server, their costs are low. The peerCDN team is heads down blowing out the capabilities of the tracker server to provide stats, reports and finer grain control, all building upon a strong initial concept that is both compelling and innovative.

The well rutted path of client-server is changing. Many of us fear P2p, thinking in criminal terms and security breaches, however, the gravity of its low cost and high efficiency create an unstoppable force. P2P is indeed the next big thing.

There’s a lot to like about peerCDN, the team has found a problem with an easily implementable solution with little or no downside and similarly little or no cost. What’s not to like? Though I suspect the classic CDN providers will poo poo this concept, the game is indeed changing and the spoils go to those that create that change. Go peerCDN I say!