One of the strongest features of peer-to-peer networking is that it needs virtually no infrastructure. The controller can be deployed in the cloud as easily as anywhere else, since video traffic never passes through it. For the same reason, peer-to-peer networks are fast to deploy. As each viewer installs the peer-to-peer client on their device, they can join or start a peer-to-peer network with little other work required. When using WebRTC-based peer-to-peer, no client deployment is necessary and any device with a modern browser can participate in the peer network.
The biggest weakness with peer-to-peer is its greatest strength. It relies on viewers—specifically their active viewing devices—as the forwarding system. This weakness is exhibited in a number of ways:
- Potential for sub-optimal forwarding architecture
- Inefficient use of WAN bandwidth
- Topology instability
- Non-deterministic network impact
- High latency variation between nodes
Caution should be taken when using peer-to-peer on networks with Wi-Fi connected viewing devices. peer-to-peer can actually consume more bandwidth than using no eCDN at all because of the half duplex nature of Wi-Fi and the way traffic is routed through the wireless controller.
peer-to-peer is at its best when all viewers are accessing the same video at the same time. Therefore, peer-to-peer is best used for live events and scheduled rebroadcasts. It is not as strong with video on demand since user access is less orchestrated, reducing the opportunity for the benefits of peer-to-peer to be realized.