Addressing the P2P Bootstrap Problem for Small Networks

Research paper by David Isaac Wolinsky, Pierre St. Juste, P. Oscar Boykin, Renato Figueiredo

Indexed on: 13 Apr '10Published on: 13 Apr '10Published in: Computer Science - Distributed; Parallel; and Cluster Computing


P2P overlays provide a framework for building distributed applications consisting of few to many resources with features including self-configuration, scalability, and resilience to node failures. Such systems have been successfully adopted in large-scale services for content delivery networks, file sharing, and data storage. In small-scale systems, they can be useful to address privacy concerns and for network applications that lack dedicated servers. The bootstrap problem, finding an existing peer in the overlay, remains a challenge to enabling these services for small-scale P2P systems. In large networks, the solution to the bootstrap problem has been the use of dedicated services, though creating and maintaining these systems requires expertise and resources, which constrain their usefulness and make them unappealing for small-scale systems. This paper surveys and summarizes requirements that allow peers potentially constrained by network connectivity to bootstrap small-scale overlays through the use of existing public overlays. In order to support bootstrapping, a public overlay must support the following requirements: a method for reflection in order to obtain publicly reachable addresses, so peers behind network address translators and firewalls can receive incoming connection requests; communication relaying to share public addresses and communicate when direct communication is not feasible; and rendezvous for discovering remote peers, when the overlay lacks stable membership. After presenting a survey of various public overlays, we identify two overlays that match the requirements: XMPP overlays, such as Google Talk and Live Journal Talk, and Brunet, a structured overlay based upon Symphony. We present qualitative experiences with prototypes that demonstrate the ability to bootstrap small-scale private structured overlays from public Brunet or XMPP infrastructures.