Peer5: making P2P seamlessly accessible

It’s no secret that Israel is a major player when it comes to innovation in general, and in the internet industry specifically.

Remember when we shared the Three reasons why Israel is the world’s hottest tech nation after we visited the country last December? Well, a lot has happened since then, and we’d like to showcase some of our inspiring Logo Peer5Israeli customers who are architecting the future in almost every industry. Some of their initiatives will make your jaw drop!

I’ll be presenting various examples during the coming months, but the first one just has to be one of my favorite startups, Peer5, who developed a way of delivering content including, video, files, games and any other data by connecting users to an efficient P2P network (mesh).

What is P2P?

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks are designed to solve issues that arise due to the aggressive growth of file transfers, streaming services and content distribution, which lead to impossible, or non-economical ways to sustain traffic demand.

Rather than distributing content through a single source server, P2P solves these issues by splitting content into many pieces and distributing them from various geographical locations. It does this in a way that allows users themselves to seamlessly share content. This results in a smoother experience for the user and reduced bandwidth costs for the service provider. The best part is that scalability occurs naturally with this design; the more users share the content, the less load on the servers.

In the last couple of years, Peer-to-peer has become an integral component of designing content distribution technologies, major global services such as Skype, Blizzard’s Battle.net, Adobe, and Facebook use P2P technology. Other examples of how P2P is used in our daily lives are universities that need to share large files with many pupils – without causing major bandwidth problems, and company projects that require secure collaboration between many employees in geographically dispersed areas. They all use peer-to-peer networks combined with server-based streaming and CDN to ensure quality of experience at all times, while reducing bandwidth consumption.

Bare Metal for heavy workloads

Hadar Weiss and Shachar Zohar founded Peer5 in 2012 with a vision to make P2P accessible and seamless to every user. “P2P is about people communicating and sharing data worldwide. At its heart, P2P is really about making information of all types available to everyone, everywhere, as simply and easily as possible” says Hadar. “Now, with the availability of WebRTC in most modern browsers, the vision becomes true.”

So how does it work? Behind the scenes, Peer5 creates a mesh network of peers, hosted on a diverse infrastructure that includes the coordinators, signaling servers, front-end web servers, DB and analytics, and Firewall puncturing servers.

At the heart of this network, Peer5 operates the coordinators that match pairs of peers. These coordinators run on top of LeaseWeb’s infrastructure and have extreme requirements; when a user loads a page he or she needs to be immediately matched with peers. Peer5 uses LeaseWeb’s Bare Metal Servers to fulfill these unique requirements. A match is dependent on many factors, including, proximity and availability among others. Once a match is made, the coordinator uses WebSockets to push the matched object to the designated peers. All of this is done in under 200ms due to the connectivity LeaseWeb provides, enabling Peer5 to create a reliable, highly available SaaS solution.

Another important piece of the architecture is a module that helps puncture firewalls and traverse NATs. When end-users are behind a NAT or a firewall they need an external server to help them establish the communication line between them. Using ICE protocols, this server handles millions of messages per minute and helps initiate the standard WebRTC handshake.
Here’s a short video of what this looks like:

Peer5 has been growing hard, providing services to some major sharing platforms. If you want to reduce your bandwidth costs (who doesn’t?) while improving the user experience, I recommend dropping them a line to see how they can help!

Meanwhile, LeaseWeb will be visiting Israel again next week, if you’d like to meet up, let me know through k.rubenstein@leaseweb.com.

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