The Flash team from Adobe has been working on their P2P Flash implementation for a while, but with the release of the 10.1 player it can really make a difference for online media distribution.
Kevin Towes, Product Manager of Adobe Flash Media Server told Beet.TV that the upcoming release of the Flash player will include new P2P technology that will “significantly change the way we think of media delivery.” According to Towes, this technology could in some cases completely eliminate bandwidth costs.
The system Adobe is offering to support P2P Flash is called Stratus. It is offered to developers free of charge and can support both live and on-demand video streaming. Besides video, Stratus can also be used for Flash based multi-player games and other forms of real time communication.
For broadcasters and video services, Stratus has the capacity to eliminate a significant amount of bandwidth costs. Instead of serving the media from a central server, users will provide the necessary bandwidth. Adobe’s Stratus system serves as an intermediary in this process, managing the communications between Flash players much like a BitTorrent tracker does for BitTorrent transfers.
Towes explained that Stratus users will first have to agree to participate in a P2P-enabled Flash swarm, similar to how they are now asked to indicate whether Flash can use their webcam. If users do not want to share bandwidth, the broadcaster has the option to offer a regular stream, a degraded stream or no stream at all.
Adobe’s Stratus project is not the first to combine P2P technology with Flash. Last year, during the inauguration of President Obama, CNN used P2P-assisted technology to send out the live stream to a million viewers worldwide. This required users to install a browser plugin called Octoshape, which then made the Flash video P2P compliant.
Other initiatives to serve on-demand and live streaming have been showcased by the Triber research team, who use a BitTorrent-based solution that does not require any central servers. Tribler is currently working with several European TV-broadcasters to test this technology in the real world.
The impact of Adobe getting seriously involved in P2P streaming could be a real game changer though. One of the main advantages Adobe’s Flash has is that nearly every computer has it installed, which should facilitate the adoption rate among content providers. One less hurdle to take, and a significant one.