Dutch University Uses BitTorrent to Update Workstations

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In the US, several universities have banned filesharing applications such as BitTorrent, mostly under pressure from the RIAA. A university in the Netherlands has taken a different approach. They use uTorrent to distribute software and OS updates across 6500 workstations, and end up saving a lot of time, money and resources by doing so.

inhollandThe BitTorrent protocol was designed to save companies time, resources and bandwidth while distributing large files. For some reason this aspect of BitTorrent never really got off the ground. Until now that is.

According to an article in the weekly Dutch magazine Automatiserings Gids, the Dutch university INHOLLAND uses BitTorrent as a network management tool to distribute software to 6500 desktop computers in 16 different locations throughout the Netherlands. Instead of distributing software updates and images from several centralized servers, INHOLAND now utilities the efficiency of BitTorrent, and uses all the computers in the network to help distribute the files.

Before they decided to use BitTorrent, more than 20 servers were needed to distribute 25.6 TBs of data to the desktops, and even then it could take up to 4 days to update them all. Now, with BitTorrent, this process has speeded up significantly, and all computers are updated with the latest software in less than 4 hours. The data doesn’t have to be distributed from one location, since all the workstations connected to the network actively help in the distribution.

The university has now only 2 central servers that run SMS2003, which is sufficient to keep all the 6500 workstations updated. ICT specialist Frank Gombault commented:

The university now uses 20 servers less than before, those servers were placed decentralized to send data to the desktops and to spare the WAN-connections.

It is not hard to see that BitTorrent saves them a lot of money on hardware and power.

Leo Blom, an ICT consultant at ITeleo came up with the idea and worked it out together with BitTorrent Inc, the developers of uTorrent. “I received a lot of support from the developers at BitTorrent, and they benefit on their turn [sic] from having access to all the relevant logs from this professional test case,” he said. “It is a win-win situation.”

BitTorrent Inc. co-founder Ashwin Navin told TorrentFreak in a response: “Ever since we launched BitTorrent DNA there has been a lot of interest in the commercial applications for BitTorrent. We believe BitTorrent will become a key piece of business infrastructure and the IT community in Holland is agreeing with that vision.”

Initially, the university’s management team was a bit reluctant to use the popular filesharing protocol as a desktop management solution, simply because it is often linked to copyright infringement. However, after they had seen it in action, they were totally convinced that they had made the right decision. Apart from that, the BitTorrent clients have no connection to the Internet, and students and employees don’t have access to it since the modified version of uTorrent runs on a special user account.

Most of TorrentFreak’s readers already know that BitTorrent can save quite a bit of money, but it is good to see large organisations start realizing this as well.

Perhaps YouTube’s next?


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