Internet

P2P service expands corporate plans

Content delivery start-up Kontiki is offering new peer-to-peer content delivery technology, aiming at companies with heavy in-house video or file transfer needs.

Content delivery start-up Kontiki said Monday that it has expanded the scope of its peer-to-peer content delivery technology, aiming at companies with heavy in-house video or file transfer needs.

The company's software technology already lets corporations distribute big files around its network, storing and delivering them using regular computers' unused disk space and network connections. The new technology adds the ability to tap a corporation's unused server space for the same purpose, in theory adding to the efficiency and cutting the cost of delivering big chunks of data to employees.

"It's the next logical step in what they're already doing," said Michael Hoch, an Aberdeen Group analyst. "It's filling in the middle step."

Kontiki is the most prominent of a post-Napster generation of peer-to-peer companies focused on business services instead of consumer file-swapping. Founded and funded by former Netscape Communications executives, Kontiki's core product uses ordinary PCs inside a company's network to help store and deliver big files such as videos or PowerPoint demonstrations.

The unconventional delivery architecture puts Kontiki's services in competition with hardware-heavy products from more established companies such as Cisco Systems and Network Appliance. But the start-up has drawn some big-name clients over the course of the last year. Palm and cell phone company Nextel Communications each use the company's software to send training videos to their sales force, for example.

The company's new service follows in the wake of other content delivery companies that have added multiple delivery layers into their network in attempts to increase efficiency. The aim of all the services is to let somebody download a file from the closest, fastest or cheapest point in a network.

Traditional corporate strategies have scattered at most a few servers through a network and let people download videos or other big data files from there. That can be expensive, particularly if people are downloading from remote offices and the company has to pay for bandwidth.

Kontiki's previous service, like several of its competitors', let people download the large files from nearby PCs on the network if, for example, other people had previously downloaded the same file. Its new product lets corporations push a video or other file to remote servers as well. It then manages the whole sprawling network of PCs and servers with a "grid delivery" system that routes any download request to the most efficient point on the network.

As Kontiki's growing corporate customer list shows, the technology model is slowly making its way into big companies eager to cut costs.

"We're seeing a lot of big companies looking at these strategies," Hoch said. "I think over the next year these new products are going to prove themselves."