Principle Skype Architect Explains What Killed Skype Peer to Peer: Proliferation of Mobile and Fragility of P2P “Supernodes”


So you want to know why Skype is abandoning its radical and cool peer-to-peer roots? Is it the big bad “Microsoft”? or the long fingers of the “NSA”? Nothing so sensational and something much more pragmatic. According to Skype Principle Architect, Matthew Kauffman, in a response on MarkMail, this big change is being forced by two very pragmatic technological items:

  • Proliferation of mobile devices
    • with no consistent bandwidth available to Skype app
    • with no extra CPU cycles (due to battery constraints, etc)
  • Bootstrapping “supernodes” after client bug induced failure far too risky

More on the mobile issue:

“Over the past few years, the number of Skype users who are using Skype from iOS-based phones and tablets, Android-based phones and tablets, Windows Phone-based phones, and Windows RT tablet devices has gone from a tiny percentage to a significant fraction of our user base. And these devices are a lot different: they're running on battery, sometimes on WiFi but often on expensive (both in money and battery) 2G or 3G data networks, and essentially "off" most of the time”

Here is an excerpt on the bootstrapping issue:

“…election winners were a monoculture of Windows desktop machines running the latest Windows Skype client. This proved to be a problem when not once, but twice a global Skype network outage was caused by a crashing bug in that client... bootstrapping the network back into existence afterwards was painful and lengthy…”

Another significant item that others have speculated (Mary Jo Foley, ARSTechnica, others) that Matthew Kauffman’s message verifies is that while Skype branding is replacing Live Messenger branding, it really is Live Messenger infrastructure replacing Skype “infastructure” in the background. Matthew Kauffman notes:

“…we have merged the Skype and Windows Messenger message delivery backend services, and this now gets you delivery of messages even when the recipient is offline…”

You can read the complete post here.

So while many some may be jumping to the conclusion that “Microsoft” is to blame for the big changes at Skype, is it really the mass migration to mobile devices we really have to blame? Does this mean Skype will have to change its name to Skyse? (Skype name came from Sky peer to peer. Is it now Sky Server? :-)

What ramifications does this have for new web/global scaled P2P WebRTC communication solutions?

[So, for all those worried about “Big Brother”: perhaps instead of a “1984” scenario (big brother intent on watching us), maybe is it more like a “Brave New World” reality? (our comfort & convenience effectively gives up privacy and individuality?…)]

via Tip from @evankirstel

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