Rewards May Outweigh Risks of Peer Networking

By Matt Hamblen, Computer World |  Networking

What if the update sent to DPR somehow contained an error that would quickly spread to the rest of the system? "We've considered that issue, but the online help from myCIO usually takes just a couple of hours, and they've been very responsive to our needs so far," Rocklage said.

"We do have to have some trust with myCIO, but I don't think we're giving up any control and haven't had any real problems from peer-to-peer," he added.

Aside from offering specific services that customers expect, analysts said, many companies are customizing some established network management products from companies such as HP, SAP AG and Tivoli Systems Inc. in Austin, Texas, too do computing jobs with peers or to store on remote machines.

In a study to be released next month, Omni Consulting Group LLP in Davis, Calif., plans to detail the results of a study of 1,500 companies in a variety of industries using some version of peer-to-peer technology. Overall, there's 18% to 19% greater efficiency in the use of system resources with peer-to-peer than with conventional methods, said Omni analyst Frank Bernhard.

In some of the cases, the study found that companies are just using the IP address of a remote desktop and accessing its hard drive to store data.

Determining Risks

"CIOs should not feel threatened and should not relinquish the strategy of the organization when considering peer-to-peer," Bernhard said. "There's infancy in it right now, but peer-to-peer has real value for large corporations."

"Even for the Fortune 500 company, a P2P architecture that leverages internal resources behind the firewall doesn't take control away from the IT manager," added Mark Eggleston, an analyst at research firm Currid & Co. in Houston. "Instead, it provides the resource-strained IT department with a vast, distributed and manageable array of cycles, storage and redundancy.''

And John Coons, an analyst at Gartner Group Inc. in Stamford, Conn., said he believes that once a business figures out who can be trusted to join in a peer-to-peer network, such a system can help. "Ultimately, this could save people money, since there are a lot [of] resources in those PCs that sit idle for two-thirds of the day," he said.

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