FMN 2009 Keynote Speaker II - June 23rd

Future Multimedia Communication over the Internet:

Issues, Challenges and Opportunities of Peer-to-Peer Mechanisms


Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ralf Steinmetz

Technical University of Darmstadt - DE



The decentralization of Internet communication is an increasing trend during the last years. We witnessed the boom peer-to-peer communication paradigm brought in content delivery networks such as KaZaA and BitTorrent, in VoIP applications such as Skype, and video streaming applications such as Joost, Zattoo, and PPLive. The peer-to-peer paradigm led to an increase of interaction between users for decreased costs as these systems are build on an infrastructure in which users consume and provide services at the same time. Also, there is a rising need for users to easily communicate, collaborate and share their user-generated content over the Internet.

However, there are many issues and challenges applying to the peer-to-peer paradigm. On the one side, peer-to-peer systems rely on cooperation among self-interested users. For example, users of file-sharing systems who do not share their own resources cause long delays or download failures. When non-cooperative users benefit from free-riding on others’ resources, the “tragedy of the commons” is inevitable. Avoiding this problem requires incentives for cooperation. On the other side, talking about QoS in decentralized autonomous (peer-to-peer) systems brings a challenge for a self-optimization not only on peer-level, but also on system-level. The distributed, self-organizing Efficiency and Information Management System (EMS) SkyEye.KOM brings an ‘oracle view’ on peer-to-peer systems. It collects and aggregates information about system components; information that can be used for analyzing and forecasting the system status using mathematical models. Finally, with the booming of peer-to-peer content delivery, Internet service providers (ISPs) are under tremendous pressure to carry peer-to-peer traffic. For example, since content providers use peer-to-peer technologies such as BitTorrent to efficiently replicate bulk data over the Internet, their costs are being passed onto the ISPs. To reduce the traffic on the backbone of the Internet and the operation costs of ISPs, it is of paramount importance to develop ISP friendly peer-to-peer solutions.

Research in the field urges addressing quality properties of peer-to-peer systems. The project QuaP2P focuses on the systematic improvement of the adaptability, efficiency, validity and security of peer-to-peer systems. As a proof of concept, all developed mechanisms and findings are integrated in two new peer-to-peer application areas - a first response system and a collaborative software development environment showing new opportunities of the peer-to-peer paradigm.


Ralf Steinmetz Biography

Prof. Ralf Steinmetz worked for over nine years in industrial research and development of distributed multimedia systems and applications. He has been head, since 1996, of the Multimedia Communications lab at Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany.

From 1997 to 2001 he directed the Fraunhofer (former GMD) Integrated Publishing Systems Institute IPSI in Darmstadt. In 1999 he founded the Hessian Telemedia Technology Competence Center (httc e.V.). His thematic focus in research and teaching is on multimedia communications with his vision of real "seamless multimedia communications". With over 200 refereed publications he has become ICCC Governor in 1999; was awarded the ranking of Fellow of both, the IEEE in 1999 and the ACM in 2002. Professor Dr. Ralf Steinmetz is a member of the Scientific Council and president of the Board of Trustees of the international research institute IMDEA Networks.