What is peer-to-peer (P2P) technology, and how is it used in an eCDN? In this blog post, Alexander Schäfer from StriveCast explains how their WebRTC-based P2P eCDN solution works, and describes the P2P eCDN features, benefits and use cases. Ramp partners with StriveCast for their WebRTC-based P2P eCDN solution to complete Ramp’s portfolio of eCDN technologies.
What is WebRTC?
WebRTC is short for Web Real-Time Communication. It is an open-source protocol that allows real-time audio and video communication between connected devices via the Internet. We all use WebRTC in our everyday business and private lives whenever we are—as the name states—communicating in real-time via the Internet. It is used for applications such as video conferencing, file transfer, chat and desktop sharing. WebRTC is already integrated into most modern browsers and works with every device, so people can broadly use it without installing any new plugins or complicated set-ups.
What is peer-to-peer (P2P)?
Peer-to-peer (P2P) describes a technology that can establish computer-to-computer connections in real-time. The resulting P2P network enables viewers and their devices to share data to reduce single requests to the origin server.
In contrast to Client-Server networks, where multiple clients connect to one central server which communicates to the origin server, the clients in P2P networks serve both as clients and servers. The devices in the corporate network themselves store content and share it among each other. For the use case of video streaming, this feature increases the stability of the network, as it is flexible in its scalability without a single point of failure.
How a P2P eCDN works
An eCDN serves to manage and optimize media content distribution within the company’s corporate network. It provides all members of a corporate network with a stable flow of data. Standard CDNs solve this challenge by using several distribution servers to spread data and cache it. This reduces the amount of requests to the origin server and reduces bandwidth requirements.
A P2P eCDN has a similar distribution approach but integrates the viewers themselves instead of using several servers to distribute content more efficiently. Users are put together into logical user groups (peers), based on their network and proximity. When requesting content, the user’s device first checks for available peers to deliver the content. If this is the case, the content will be provided without connecting to the original server. This way, content is quickly and easily shared among the users, which results in fewer bandwidth requirements and faster, high-quality streaming experiences.
Want more technical information? Get the StriveCast P2P CDN Datasheet
Benefits of a P2P eCDN
Like other eCDNs, a P2P eCDN enables smooth, reliable media delivery. Besides the known advantages of eCDNs, a P2P eCDN brings the following benefits:
- Significant bandwidth savings
- Can be implemented in any network, regardless of the infrastructure given
- No changes to the network needed
- No single point of failure, as no central server distributes information
- Unlimited scalability as it works even better the more viewers join the stream
Ramp partnered with StriveCast to offer its customers a P2P eCDN solution. With StriveCast Enterprise, Ramp customers benefit from the following outstanding features:
- Flexibility: Can be deployed via cloud solution or on-premises
- Security: Content is only shared encrypted, fully GDPR and DRM compliant
- Simplicity: 100% WebRTC and browser-based, easy to set-up and no installation needed
- Intelligence: StriveCast’s P2P eCDN is a self-learning eCDN with an AI-based approach, meaning it actively learns after each event and further optimizes the P2P networks
When to use a P2P eCDN
A P2P eCDN does not require any specific network structures, and it can be used in any setup. Therefore it is ideal to use within corporate networks that have limited network infrastructure or do not allow changes to the network due to strict company policies. It is most efficient and can save its maximum amount of bandwidth when streaming inside a corporate network, but is also compatible with VPN.
With their ability to enable the end user’s devices to share fragments of content by connecting with each other and due to their high scalability and stability, P2P networks have proven to be the ideal solution for decentralized companies with large numbers of regional company sites where eCDN servers cannot be deployed easily. Additionally, a P2P eCDN is compatible with other enterprise content delivery solutions, like caching and multicasting, and can be used in hybrid environments.
StriveCast’s WebRTC-based P2P CDN
The only service-side managed P2P eCDN
The P2P eCDN solution from StriveCast is already implemented in most enterprise video platforms and can be used out of the box. StriveCast’s P2P eCDN is 100% WebRTC-based. Therefore, it is entirely browser-based and can be set up in a few minutes—it’s just a line of code the customer needs to implement.
What further differentiates StriveCast from other P2P eCDN providers is our server-side managed CDN approach. This means that every single peer joining the network will also connect to a dedicated management server. Thus the management server has a list of every single peer in the network. StriveCast uses WebSockets as a communication protocol to immediately recognize when a peer goes offline. Since every new peer directly connects to the management server, we can inspect the whole network in real time.
By collecting and evaluating information about network performance and device bandwidth, StriveCast’s eCDN is a self-learning network that continuously optimizes the grouping of peers and content distribution. The entire process of clustering peers, calculating distributions, handling churn, and deciding which users to connect can now be done based on complete information in real-time.
The management server fully controls how the peers act and connect with each other. Network management and connections are done based on complete information and learnings from the network. The management server has a full overview of the entire P2P network, along with geo and bandwidth information of each peer. With this information at hand, the server can send “connect” and “disconnect” events autonomously to shape the peer-to-peer network in the most efficient way. This is a unique approach based on artificial intelligence, and it continuously optimizes the network.
The only WebRTC P2P solution with mDNS compatibility
mDNS is a security feature that can be activated in the client’s browser. It is used to resolve hostnames to IP addresses in local networks. As the IP addresses are not retrievable, any external services or organization outside the internal network can’t draw any conclusion about the network’s structure and size.
Most P2P providers struggle with networks using mDNS, as they use the IP addresses to form logical peering groups out of the different devices. They therefore command their customers that every client needs to install a certain software–a costly, error-prone, and ultimately unnecessary measure. StriveCast has a smart solution to this challenge. By placing a management server within the corporate network, this server is able to see all IP addresses within the company’s system. StriveCast accordingly is the only P2P eCDN provider, which solves the challenge of mDNS without any installations on the client’s side.
Learn more about Ramp’s partnership with StriveCast.
StriveCast is a leading technology provider for eCDN solutions. Our WebRTC-based P2P mesh network is used by large companies like Swisscom, Siemens, Gazprom, and NEP group to solve network congestion during live events. Based in Germany, we are continually improving and adapting our cutting-edge P2P technology to provide the next generation of enterprise video delivery. Today, StriveCast connects over 150,000 users worldwide on a daily basis, saving customers up to 95% of CDN traffic with a unique server-side-managed Peer-To-Peer network.