Who Needs Napster? Original Netscape Team Building Peer-to-Peer System

The original Netscape team, including Marc Andreessen and Jim Barksdale, have gotten together to build a new peer-to-peer networking system. Much like other peer-to-peer systems such as Napster and Hotline, the new company hopes to provide users easy access to a wide range of content. According to a C|Net article the new company, called Zodiac Networks, is likely to follow the lead of content distributor Akamai. Akamai helps content providers reach customers be eliminating many of the traditional bandwidth bottlenecks. Zodiac hopes to do the same thing. According to C|Net:

Zodiac Networks, a start-up also led by fellow Netscape alumni Mike Homer and Wade Hennessey, is in the early stages of building a team of engineers for a peer-to-peer content distribution service, according to sources close to the companyis plans.

Funded in part by Benchmark Capital, The Barksdale Group and several other Netscape alumni, the company hopes to target major media companies. Their idea, according to sources, is to distribute content to individual computer users more quickly than is typically possible.

Although details are slim on how Zodiac aims to do this, sources say the company is developing a model that takes a page from Akamai and peer-to-peer companies like Napster, with a bit of now-defunct PointCastis old push technology thrown in.

Aside from the music "sharing" service Napster, peer-to-peer networks have not truly taken off. Problems with security, reliability, and access have remained obstacles for widespread adoption. However, with the increasing presence of broadband connections, the market might be right for another attempt.

Details on Zodiacis plans are scarce, but C|Net did speculate:

Individuals using the system might select what type of content they want to view, whether itis content from CNN or the latest Billboard top 10 hits. That content would be pushed to peopleis computers and stored there. It would be available to them, but also could be available to other nearby computer users who later decided they wanted the same content, sources say.

Like technology from Akamai, which tries to host content inside Internet service provider networks physically close to computer users, this would potentially greatly speed downloads and access times to popular content.

Zodiac appears to be on the leading edge of a next wave in peer-to-peer technologies, aimed at creating industrial-strength content-delivery services with the help of a model that so far has been used largely for trading music and video files of doubtful legality online.

No time frame has been announced for the introduction of Zodiacis technologies into the marketplace, but based on the companyis founders past, we should expect big things in a very short time.

You can read the full article at the C|Net Web site.