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Open Peer to allow direct peer-to-peer signaling to initiate connection between people, using browsers

photo of Sepp Hasslberger

Sepp Hasslberger
19th November 2012


While WebRTC is a protocol that allows direct communication between individuals on the internet, using their browser, there is a bottleneck that needs to be resolved.

WebRTC is being enthusiastically described in a recent article on VentureBeat:

WebRTC is almost here, and it will change the web

But there is a problem: WebRTC does not have a “signaling protocol”, which would allow the initial contact, the “handshake” between two computers, to be performed without the assistance of a dedicated server.

The presence of firewalls all over the net is preventing that initial communication from happening. A firewall protects you from unauthorized access by hackers, but it also closes your computer within a space that others, even if well intentioned, cannot penetrate.

Now there is some important work in progress to establish an open peer-to-peer signaling protocol that will overcome the handshake bottleneck.

Enter http://openpeer.org/

“Open Peer is a peer-to-peer signalling protocol taking advantages of the IETF advances of firewall penetration techniques for moving media and adds a layer to performs the media signalling in a peer-to-peer fashion but does expect that a minimal requirement of rendezvous servers existing. Beyond the initial rendezvous to get past firewalls, the servers should drop out of the protocol flow and are no longer required.

Open Peer was designed with these main goals in mind…”

Openness – a protocol is freely available for anyone to implement.

Greater network resilience – peers can continue to function and inter-operate even if servers are down.

Increased privacy and security – peers communicate directly in a secure fashion designed to protect against network ease dropping, forged communication or spying by 3rd parties or being a convenient data mining target for hackers as the information does not flow through centralized servers.

Federation – the protocol makes it easy for users on one service to communicate with users on another independent service offering.

Identity protection – the ability of users to easily provide proof of their identity using existing social platforms while protecting these identities from spoofed by others.

Decreased cost – without the need to continuously relay signalling or media through centralized servers, the costs to host, administer, relay, replicate, process and store data on servers while providing 5 9s uptime is decreased.

WebRTC enabling protocol – designed to be the engine that allows WebRTC to function, supporting federation of independent websites and services, provide security and online identity protection and validation, and peer-to-peer signalling bypassing the need for heavy cloud based infrastructure.

Scalability – whether starting at 50 users or moving beyond 5,00,000 users, the protocol is designed to allow for easy scalability by removing the complexity of communications out of the servers.

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