Peer to peer: As the revolution recedes

It took a boom and a bust to do it, but peer-to-peer technology is finding its post-Napster place in the world.

Like the Internet itself, peer to peer is settling into a second, more prosaic stage following the bubble of excitement that seemed to stand the world on its head--if only for a moment.

Peer-to-peer networks, in essence, provide a way to link PCs together without the need for powerful central server computers. When Napster, the best known peer-to-peer player, surged in popularity last year, entrepreneurs and media pundits boasted that the technology, which allows people to search for and retrieve files from individual computers around the world, would transform the Internet. But peer to peer is now gaining traction primarily as an unglamorous technique for making ordinary business processes more efficient.

Some big projects are still in the works, backed in part by the financial and technical muscle of powerhouses such as Intel, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems. But the biggest buzz--around peer to peer's ability to transform the way computers work together--has passed, making it difficult for smaller companies and developers to finance plans that aren't tied to immediate business returns.

"There was definitely a hype bubble that grew and burst," said Kelly Truelove, an independent peer-to-peer technology consultant and co-author of a recent book on the subject. "It shed a light (on the technology), and the light faded away. And now people are continuing to do what they were doing without the light."

News source: Yahoo!/CNet

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