Problems in Wireless P2P Development
While these platforms are designed to solve some implementation problems, wireless P2P developers still face their own unique
set of challenges.
Adapting the client.
Developers may need to find a way to make the richer "peer experience" of a P2P-enabled device
work for their particular situation, even though they face significant limitations in memory, storage, and processing power.
For some devices, a fat, highly functional P2P client will be needed, while for others, any client that supports P2P
connections will do, notes Matt Page, manager of device platforms for Groove Networks. "Developers must consider if there
exists the need for a fat client experience based on the target platform," Page notes. "For example, smart phone users will
likely never use that device to edit large Excel models."
Another problem in wireless P2P development is determining how, when, and under what
circumstances developers want to have peer devices synch up with central data stores. Developers will also need to decide how
and when users will synch up with each other, which users they will access, and under what circumstances. P2P goups like the
ones created by Groove can stay synchronized with each other, even if they're not connected to the central IT infrastructure.
In other cases, it may be better to synch through a central data store. Also, given the variation in wireless networks from
place to place, developers may want to give users the option of shutting off P2P synching or even data exchange depending on
how good the wireless network coverage is in their location, Page pointed out.
Securing the data.
Still another problem in wireless P2P environments is creating a secure environment for data
sharing. This topic is complex enough to call for its own full-length article, but in brief, here are just a few of the more
critical issues to be addressed.
In peer-to-peer networks, edge-of-network devices wind up being rich sources as well as receivers of information.
Operating system or application security holes, which might only have exposed a single user's PC to compromise, may now offer
intruders access to an entire network. Staying on top of security bugs in common mobile software apps and platforms is
Extending and revoking permission to access the network is a critical element in controlling mobile device P2P
connectivity. If a user loses their device, your network admin must be able to revoke permission to access staff and
In the case of an 802.11b P2P area network, extra security measures are appropriate. Particularly if rich user data is being
shared P2P across such a network in addition to corporate info, developers and other IT staff must take care to protect
against unauthorized users sniffing information off of the wireless network, noted Greg Bolcer, chief technology officer of
To push information across the airwaves, enterprises will have to use a gateway device that speaks the protocol of the
receiving network. That device can be leased from an external vendor or run on premise by a company, but either way, a
gateway is needed. As data is transmitted from a corporate IP network across a gateway, however, there's a moment when all of
the data is exposed. Some enterprises are comfortable with this and some aren't; ultimately, it may be your job to be aware
of and address this problem.
Finally, bandwidth consumption between peer nodes is also a concern. In a peer-to-peer
environment, developers need to plan their data distribution architecture not only to squeeze corporate information across
wireless connections to devices, but also to permit information to flow from device to device.
Take the experience of Cleveland, Ohio-based wireless solutions developer WISP Inc., which has been testing BadBlue's zShare
with a financial services client. Unaware of any potential problems, one of the end-user testers attempted to open a 35MB
Excel spreadsheet that resided on another user's system. The move, while legal on the BadBlue system, brought computing to a
halt for both parties. "The machine [that the spreadsheet] was hosted on went into all sorts of fits doing what it had to do
so it could share the information," says Martin Hasemann, network engineer with WISP.
If developers bear these concerns in mind as they approach P2P, however, they may find that P2P technology is the killer app
that makes the effort of connecting mobile devices worthwhile. After all, ultimately, if users have the information they
want, the developers have done their job well. The faster and more conveniently they can get it, the better.