P2P May Have Place in Workspace

Despite legal troubles, there has been a 535 percent increase in the last year of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing and file transfer Web sites – totaling nearly 38,000 Web pages – reports Websense Inc.

These figures could equal trouble for businesses as employees consume bandwidth and storage space, while also opening the door for legal liabilities. Websense cites the case where Arizona-based Integrated Information Systems Inc. (IIS) ran a dedicated server allowing employees to post and share thousands of copyrighted MP3 files over their company computer network. IIS had to agree to pay the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) $1 million in lieu of a court trial.

“Napster may have faded, but new MP3 and video download sites have picked up the slack,” said Andy Meyer, vice president of marketing for Websense Inc. “Employees are eager to download these applications onto their corporate networks, taking advantage of high-speed Internet connections. Meanwhile, company IT professionals scramble to manage the network drain and support problems associated with unauthorized downloads.”

Making a case for the importance of P2P in the workspace is analysis from Frost & Sullivan that focuses on collaborative file sharing as a business application, rather than a music swapping system.

Frost & Sullivan state that P2P networking is no longer an architecture in search of a business application, it is an architecture that businesses can employ to their advantage, and the forward thinking participants of the global Internet infrastructure industry believe that P2P networking is the future of the Internet.

Frost & Sullivan’s research revealed that approximately 61,410 enterprise users have access to a P2P network, but forecasts that number to top 6.2 million by 2007. Total market revenues in 2001 were expected to reach $42.8 million and exceed $4.53 billion by 2007.

Unfortunately, P2P has earned a negative reputation but Frost & Sullivan believes that solutions vendors will work hard to build credibility. The involvement of large companies, such as Sun Microsystems, will help the networking protocol to earn respect in the market, while assuaging fears of legal liability and security.

“An obstacle to an effective enterprise P2P network is convincing network administrators that a P2P network can be secured to prevent digital assets theft,” said Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Jarad Carleton. “This will require significant resources from market participants to devote to education on P2P security features as well as potential benefits that can be obtained by implementing an enterprise P2P network.”

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