A survey of peer-to-peer content distribution technologies

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Stephanos Androutsellis-Theotokis and Diomidis Spinellis. A survey of peer-to-peer content distribution technologies. ACM Computing Surveys, 36(4):335-371, December 2004. doi:10.1145/1041680.1041681


Distributed computer architectures labeled "peer-to-peer" are designed for the sharing of computer resources (content, storage, CPU cycles) by direct exchange, rather than requiring the intermediation or support of a centralized server or authority. Peer-to-peer architectures are characterized by their ability to adapt to failures and accommodate transient populations of nodes while maintaining acceptable connectivity and performance. Content distribution is an important peer-to-peer application on the Internet that has received considerable research attention. Content distribution applications typically allow personal computers to function in a coordinated manner as a distributed storage medium by contributing, searching, and obtaining digital content. In this survey we propose a framework for analyzing peer-to-peer content distribution technologies. Our approach focuses on non-functional characteristics such as security, scalability, performance, fairness, and resource management potential, and examines the way in which these characteristics are reflected in - and affected by - the architectural design decisions adopted by current peer-to-peer systems. We study current peer-to-peer systems and infrastructure technologies in terms of their distributed object location and routing mechanisms, their approach to content replication, caching and migration, their support for encryption, access control, authentication and identity, anonymity, deniability, accountability and reputation, and their use of resource trading and management schemes.