What does Peer Means ?

Today’s computers are more powerful. They have fast processor and large memory space. Their capacities exceed the requirement for normal browsing and other computing tasks. So, for many of the applications it can act like both client and a server. This is what a peer does. It acts like both client and a server.

Typically a server is equipped with large resources and responds to the requests of the other client computers for data. The most common example of a client-server model is web browsing. Web servers are computers with large processors and hard disc arrays. A web server has to store all the information related to websites, like images, HTML files, graphics and other audio, video files. A client server will request for a page and web server has to respond to it.

A peer to peer network is a distributed architecture with many servers called as peers connected to each other. All the peers may be equal in terms of privileges (Peers can be made to contribute unequally as well). The networks of peers share its processor and resources. The task is completed in a distributed environment. The network doesn’t depend on a single computer or super computer. One thing should be noted that peers are both suppliers of resources and consumers of resources.

Summarising differences between client server network and peer to peer networking
Peer to peer network is characterised by absence of central server. There is no central storage or authentication of users. Each computer on the network can share files with other computers on the network. In client server network client accesses files stored on the server. The server authenticates users or clients for accessing these files. The concept behind peer to peer network is to share files and other resources in a cost effective manner. As the main server is absent each client acts like both server and the client.

Peer to Peer Networking enables:

1. Real Time Communications (RTC)
Today server less instant messaging is possible amongst peers. RTC allows peers to play computer games together online.

2. Collaborations
Windows meeting place is a fine example of windows peer to peer application. Peer to Peer networking allows sharing of workspace. This shared workspace results in formation of ad hoc work groups.

3. Distribution of text, audio, video and software updates
P2P networking allows for sending and receiving of text based information to large group. Large concert or a conference meeting can be experienced amongst large group of people. A peer gets the information from the nearest peer available. Similarly software updates can be transmitted from one peer to others.

Serving original purpose of the Internet
Originally internet was designed so that network peers can have end to end connectivity. But today’s internet is based on client-server environment. In this scene communication is not end to end. This is because of the presence of Network Address Translators. But by utilising a peer to peer networking programme end to end communication can be achieved. After launching the programme one peer can connect to other peer through ip addresses. This will serve the original purpose of internet.

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