Collaborative applications over peer-to-peer systemschallenges and solutions

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  • Collaborative applications over peer-to-peersystemschallenges and solutions

    H. M. N. Dilum Bandara & Anura P. Jayasumana

    Received: 1 September 2011 /Accepted: 28 June 2012 /Published online: 20 July 2012# Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

    Abstract Emerging collaborative Peer-to-Peer (P2P) systemsrequire discovery and utilization of diverse, multi-attribute,distributed, and dynamic groups of resources to achieve greatertasks beyond conventional file and processor cycle sharing.Collaborations involving application specific resources anddynamic quality of service goals are stressing current P2Parchitectures. Salient features and desirable characteristics ofcollaborative P2P systems are highlighted. Resource advertis-ing, selecting, matching, and binding, the critical phases inthese systems, and their associated challenges are reviewedusing examples from distributed collaborative adaptive sensingsystems, cloud computing, and mobile social networks. State-of-the-art resource discovery/aggregation solutions are com-pared with respect to their architecture, lookup overhead, loadbalancing, etc., to determine their ability to meet the goals andchallenges of each critical phase. Incentives, trust, privacy, andsecurity issues are also discussed, as they will ultimately de-termine the success of a collaborative P2P system. Open issuesand research opportunities that are essential to achieve the truepotential of collaborative P2P systems are discussed.

    Keywords Collaborative applications . Multi-attributeresources . Peer-to-peer . Resource discovery

    1 Introduction

    Resource-rich computing devices, decreasing communica-tion cost, and Web 2.0 technologies are fundamentally

    changing the way we communicate, learn, socialize, andcollaborate. With these changes, we envision Peer-to-Peer(P2P) systems that play an even greater role in collaborativeapplications. P2P computing fits naturally to this new era ofuser-driven, distributed applications utilizing resource-richedge devices. There is thus a tremendous opportunity tocreate value by combining societal trends with P2P systems.Peer collaboration has expanded beyond its conventionalapplications wherein files or processor cycles are sharedby peers to perform similar tasks. Emerging collaborativeP2P systems look for diverse peers that could bring inunique capabilities to a community, thereby empowering itto engage in greater tasks beyond that can be accomplishedby individual peers, yet are beneficial to all the peers. This issimilar to a team that thrives due to the diversity of mem-bers expertise. A collaborative P2P system is a P2P systemthat aggregates a group(s) of diverse resources (e.g., hard-ware, software, services, and data) to accomplish a greatertask. Such collaborations involving diverse and applicationspecific resources and dynamic Quality of Service (QoS)goals stress the current P2P architectures.

    Collaborative P2P systems are applicable in a wide varietyof contexts such as Distributed Collaborative Adaptive Sens-ing (DCAS) [1], grid/cloud computing, opportunistic comput-ing [2], Internet of Things, social networks, and emergencymanagement. We consider four representative applications toillustrate the salient features and characteristics of collabora-tive P2P systems. First is Collaborative Adaptive Sensing ofthe Atmosphere (CASA) [1, 3], an emerging DCAS systembased on a dense network of weather radars that collaborate inreal time to detect hazardous atmospheric conditions such astornados and severe storms. CASA also employs many smallsensors such as pressure sensors and rain gauges to furtherenhance the detectability and prediction accuracy of weatherevents. Collaborative P2P data fusion provides an attractiveimplementation choice for CASA real-time radar data fusion

    H. M. N. D. Bandara :A. P. Jayasumana (*)Colorado State University,Fort Collins, CO 80523, USAe-mail:

    H. M. N. D. Bandarae-mail:

    Peer-to-Peer Netw. Appl. (2013) 6:257276DOI 10.1007/s12083-012-0157-3

  • [3], wherein data are constantly being generated, processed,and pushed and pulled among groups of heterogeneous radars,sensors, storage, and processing nodes. The group of radars,sensors, processing, and storage elements involved in trackinga particular weather event may continue to change as theweather event migrates in both time and space. Thus, newgroups of resources may have to be aggregated and currentresources may be released as and when needed. Moreover,certain rare but severe weather events require specific meteo-rological algorithms (e.g., signal processing and prediction)and more computing, storage, and bandwidth resources totrack and forecast/nowcast1 about the behavior of thoseevents. It is neither feasible nor economical to provisionresources for such rare peak demands everywhere in theCASA system. Instead, a collaborative P2P system can exploitthe temporal and spatial diversity of weather events to aggre-gate underutilized resources from anywhere in the system asfar as desired performance and QoS goals are satisfied. On theother end of the spectrum, we are also seeing the emergence ofcrowd-sourced, community-based weather monitoring sys-tems [4] that aggregate armature weather stations andcommunity-based computing resources to provide local andnational weather forecasts. The second application is cloudcomputing, which is transforming the way we host and runapplications because of its rapid scalability and pay-as-you-goeconomic model [5]. Open cloud initiatives are pressing forinteroperability among multiple cloud providers and sites ofthe same provider. Alternatively, community cloud computing[6], based on underutilized computing resources in homes orbusinesses for example, targets issues such as centralized data,privacy, proprietary applications, and cascading failures inmodern clouds. Certain applications also benefit from a mix-ture of dedicated and voluntary cloud resources [7, 8]. Acollaborative P2P system is the core of such a multi-site orcommunity-cloud system that interconnects dedicated/volun-tary resources while dealing with rapid scalability and re-source fluctuations. We refer to such systems as P2P clouds.Third application, Global Environment for Network Innova-tions (GENI) [9], is a collaborative and exploratory platformfor discoveries and innovation. GENI allows users to aggre-gate diverse resources (e.g., processing, networks, sensors,actuators, and software) frommultiple administrative domainsfor a common task. A collaborative P2P system is a natural fitfor GENI because of its distributed, dynamic, heterogeneous,and collaborative nature. Fourth, the value of social networkscan be enhanced by allowing users to share diverse resourcesavailable in their mobile devices [2]. For example, a personwith a basic mobile phone could connect to a friends smartphone with GPS capability to locate a nearby ATM. In anotherexample, a group sharing their holiday experiences in a coffee

    shop could use one members projection phone to showpictures from others mobiles/tablets or stream videos fromtheir home servers. Moreover, in large social gatherings suchas carnivals, sports events, or political rallies, users mobiledevices can be used to share hot deals, comments, videos, orvote for a certain resolution without relying on a networkinfrastructure. Such applications are already emerging underthe domain of opportunistic networking and computing [2].These applications, hereafter referred to as mobile social net-works, also benefit from collaborative mobile P2P technology.Further, envision an agglomeration of many collaborative P2Psystems into a single unified P2P framework wherein peerscontribute and utilize diverse resources for both altruistic andcommercial purposes. For example, a cloud provider couldcontribute its processor cycles to the P2P community hopingto gain monetary benefits whenever possible, and duringperiods of lower demand it could provide similar or degradedservices to gain nonmonetary benefits (e.g., to demonstrate itshigh availability or gain reputation). Alternatively, an applica-tion provider that accesses free/unreliable resources for itsregular operations could tap into dedicated/reliable resourcesduring periods of high demand [7]. The framework could alsoenable resource-rich home users to earn virtual currency2 orpoints for their contributions that they can later use to accessother services offered within the system [10, 11]. Such aframework also enables a level playing field for both smalland large-scale contributors.

    CASA, P2P clouds, GENI, mobile social networks, andaggregated P2P systems depend on some form of resourcecollaboration. These systems share a variety of resourcessuch as processor cycles, storage capacity, network band-width, sensors/actuators, special hardware, middleware, sci-entific algorithms, application software, services (e.g., webservices and spawning nodes in a cloud), and data to notonly consume a variety of contents but also to generate,modify, and manage those contents. Moreover, these resour-ces are characterized by multiple static and dynamic attrib-utes. For example, CPU speed, free CPU capacity, memory,bandwidth, operating system, and a list of installed applica-tions/middleware and their versions may characterize a pro-cessing node. These multi-attribute resources need to becombined in a timely manner to meet the performance andQoS requirements of collaborative P2P applications. Yet, itis nontrivial to discover, aggregate, and utilize heteroge-neous and dynamic resources that are distributed.

    This paper attempts to formalize the P2P resource collab-oration problem and reviews the current solution space. Keyphases and desirable characteristics of collaborative P2P sys-tems are identified first. We then evaluate the (in)ability ofexisting solutions to support those key phases and desired

    1 Nowcast refers to a 530 min short-term forecast of an active weatherevent.

    2 Electronic money that is not a tangible commodity and are typicallynot contractually backed by tangible assets nor by legal laws.

    258 Peer-to-Peer Netw. Appl. (2013) 6:257276

  • characteristics. Incentives, trust, privacy, and security relatedissues and existing solutions are also discussed. Finally, adetailed discussion on open issues and research oppor-tunities is provided. Key phases and desirable character-istics of resource collaboration are introduced in Section2. Section 3 discusses how different solutions for struc-tured and unstructured P2P systems are designed toprovide the functionality required by each phase. Sec-tion 4 presents incentives, trust, privacy, and securityissues and solutions proposed to address those. Researchopportunities and challenges in resource collaborationover P2P systems are discussed in Section 5. Conclud-ing remarks are presented in Section 6.

    2 Phases in resource collaboration

    We identify seven phases of resource collaboration in P2Psystems as shown in Fig. 1. These separate phases are identi-fied for the sake of conceptual understanding while anactual implementation may combine multiple phasestogether. Specific systems may skip some of themdepending on the application requirements. However,complexities, implementation details, and available relat-ed work on each of these phases significantly vary. Theseven phases are as follows:

    1. Advertise Each node advertises its resources and theircapabilities using one or more Resource Specifications(RSs). Taxonomy of RSs is given in Fig. 2(a). A re-source is characterized by a set of attributes A and atypical RS is as follows:

    RS a1 v1; a2 v2; :::; ai vi

    Each attribute ai A has a value vi Di that belongsto a given domain Di. Di is typically bounded and mayrepresent a continuous/discrete value or a category/name. For example, free CPU is continuous, numberof CPU cores is discrete, Doppler radar is a category,and a file is represented by a name. In some cases, vimay specify a range or list of values, e.g., a time rangeor a list of software libraries. Attribute values are fur-ther classified as static (e.g., CPU speed, operatingsystem, and Doppler radar) and dynamic (e.g., CPUand memory free). RSs are also classified based onthe number of attributes. RSs are referred to as single-attribute when the cardinality of set A, |A| 0 1 and theyare referred to as multi-attribute when |A| > 1. Someresources are advertised using a single-attribute thatprovides an abstract representation of the resource. Forexample, cloud-computing nodes are typically described

    as high CPU, high memory, and cluster instances [12]:

    RS Type00High CPU 0 0

    RSs may also specify constraints on how those resourcescan be used. For example, a computing node may indicatewhen it is available, to what extent the CPU can be utilized,who can use it, and howmany concurrent licenses are available.Hence, a detailed hybrid, multi attribute RS may look like:


    CPUSpeed 2:0GHz; Architecture 86;CPUFree 53%; MemoryFree 1071MB;OSLinux 2:6:31; Available12 : 00am6 : 00am;CPUUtilization 60%;UseBy00Friends0 0 ; Licenses 2


    In practice, a RS is advertised as a tuple, set of (attribute,value) pairs, vector [13], or as a detailed XML specification[14]. A node may either hold on to its RSs hoping otherswill discover its resources by sending probe messages, orexplicitly send/advertise its RSs to a centralized database,Distributed Hash Tables (DHTs), or to a set of randomnodes. Resources that are characterized by dynamic attrib-utes are typically re-advertised when the attribute valueschange significantly.

    2. Discover Nodes may send probing messages to pro-actively discover and build a local repository of usefulRSs, particularly if specifications are unadvertised.Such a collection of RSs can speed up the query reso-lution and may be used to keep track of inter-resourcerelationships such as latency, bandwidth, and trust.

    ii vavavaRS ,...,, 2211







    Fig. 1 Phases in resource collaboration


    Peer-to-Peer Netw. Appl. (2013) 6:257276 259

  • 3. Select Select a group(s) of resources that satisfies thegiven application requirements. Application require-ments are typically specified using queries that list oneor more attributes and range of attribute values. Thetaxonomy of queries is given in Fig. 2(b). A typicalrange query may be defined as follows:

    Q Resources m; a1 2 l1; u1 ; a2 2 l2; u2 ; :::; aj 2 lj; uj

    where mZ+ specifies the required number of resources andaj 2 lj; uj

    ; aj 2 A specifies the desired range of attribute

    values (lj and uj are lower and upper bounds, respectively).If lj0uj, aj A, Q is referred to as a point query. Queriesthat are more complex may also specify Boolean conditions.

    A hybrid query consists of a set of attributes that mayspecify a mix of point values, ranges, and Boolean condi-tions. The set of attributes specified in a query (QA) maycontain only a subset of the attributes for a resource (i.e.,QA A). Unspecified attributes are considered as dont care.Q is referred to as a single-attribute query when |QA| 0 1 andit is referred to as multi-attribute when |QA| > 1. In rarecases, a query may specify only the required number ofresources without specifying any attributes, i.e., |QA| 0 0.Such queries may appear in grid, cloud, and P2P cloudswhen users are interested in just finding a set of nodesregardless of their capabilities [15]. We term such queriesas zero-attribute queries. An example multi-attribute hybridquery may look like follows:

    Q Resources 6;CPUSpeed 2 2:0GHz;MAX ; MemoryFree 2 256MB; 512MB ;Architecture 86;OS00Linux 2:6:320 0OR0 0UNIX 11:120 0


    In practice, queries are specified using metasyntax nota-tions such as the Extended BackusNaur Form (EBNF) [16],virtual grid Description Language (vgDL) [17], and XML [14,16]. When resources are discovered proactively, duringthe discovery phase, nodes can query the local reposi-tory for relevant RSs. Selection of resources needs totake into account both the resource attributes and usageconstraints specified in RSs. If a sufficient number ofmatching resources is not found or a local repositorydoes not exist, nodes can query the centralized database,DHTs, or other peers (whichever supported) in the system.

    4. Match Not all the combinations of resources satisfyinga resource query may be suitable or capable of workingtogether. It is important to take into account how tworesources relate and interact with each other (e.g., band-width/latency between different pairs of peers), to en-sure that they can satisfy the resource and applicationconstraints. For example, data processing in CASA,GENI, or P2P clouds may not only require processing

    nodes and storage nodes but also require certain latency/bandwidth bounds among different pairs of such resour-ces. For instance, a node with somewhat limited pro-cessing and storage capabilities may be a better matchfor a certain application than two nodes (one with highprocessing capabilities and the other with large storage),if they are separated by a low-bandwidth or a heavilyloaded interconnect. Similarly, mobile P2P and ad-hocnetworks may need to ascertain whether two resourcesare nearby to avoid a certain service provider, minimizelatency, or reduce packet loss. Moreover, social relation-ships between users may affect the willingness to sharetheir resources. In practice, such constraints on interresource relationships are expressed as part of the re-source query; however, they are evaluated only duringthe match phase. For example, EBNF notation in [16]and vgDL [17] allow a query to specify groups ofresources and then specify intra-group and inter-groupconstraints. Following is a simplified representation ofsuch a query:

    Resource Specification

    Single-attribute Multi-attribute


    Continuous Discrete Category/name

    Dynamic Static

    Continuous Discrete Category/name




    Single-attribute Multi-attribute

    Point Boolean



    Range Point BooleanRange

    (a) (b)

    Fig. 2 Taxonomy of (a) Resource specifications and (b) Queries

    260 Peer-to-Peer Netw. Appl. (2013) 6:257276

  • Ability to specify constraints as part of a query enablesspecific implementations to integrate select and matchphases together, and to terminate a range query as soon asthe desired set of resources is found. Depending on the typesof resource constraints that need to be satisfied by collabo-rative applications, the P2P system may rely on variousinference engines to identify inter-node latencies and band-widths, network topologies, administrative policies, socialrelationships, etc.

    5. Bind Once a subset of resources that match the applica-tion requirements are identified, it is necessary to ensurethat the selected resources are available for use. Due tochurn or failures, the resources found may not be availableby the time the application is ready to utilize them. Thesame resource may also be under consideration by otherapplications. Hence, a binding has to be established be-tween the resources and the application trying to use them.Binding is particularly important in guaranteed serviceenvironments like CASA and GENI to achieve desiredQoS and real-time requirements. Depending on the appli-cation environment, a binding may be extended (if aresource(s) is not already committed to another applica-tion) without going through the first four phases to reac-quire resources. This is useful when an application did notcomplete its task within the predicted time window or anexternal event caused the application to continue further(e.g., due to unpredictability of weather events in CASA orincreased user demand on a P2P cloud application).

    6. Use Utilize the best subset of available resources thatsatisfy application requirements and constraints to carryout the application tasks for which resources were ac-quired. Resource usage and interaction patterns are ap-plication specific. Users may manually configure simpleapplications while more complex interaction patterns

    may be defined as workflows (i.e., logical sequence ofactions and interactions among resources). In suchapplications nodes may collaborate by sharing theirresources (e.g., sharing a processing node or a file).Moreover, applications may be also deployed as a setof collaborating agents autonomously moving amongselected resources (e.g., in-network data fusion in CA-SA and bargaining agents on a mobile social network).Resources may be granted for exclusive access or forsimultaneous sharing across multiple applications (e.g.,prototype CASA radars are shared among concurrentGENI users through virtual machines [18]).

    7. Release Release resources when application demanddecreases, the task is completed, or binding expires,whichever occurs first. As with usage patterns, the re-source release patterns are also application dependent. Anapplication may either release a resource(s) completely(e.g., by removing the application from the resource orterminating the connection) or may reduce its resourceusage such that the resource can collaborate with anotherapplication (e.g., by reducing CPU load and memoryconsumption without leaving a processing node). If thebinding expires and the application is not able to extend itany further, either the resource(s) or a policy enforcementagent may pull the application out of the resource toensure that the resource is available to other applications.

    Applications may cycle through these phases as andwhen they need additional resources to fulfill increased/varying application demands, to take advantage of newresources, or to overcome limitations caused, e.g., byresources that fail or leave the P2P network. It is possiblefor different applications and multiple instances of an appli-cation to be in different phases at any given time. Thus, theP2P resource allocation schemes have to continually adapt

    Q = {

    Group A

    Resources = 6, CPUSpeed [2.0 GHz, MAX], DiskFree [2 GB, MAX]

    Latency [0, 50 ms]

    Group B

    Resources = 4, CPUFree [50 %, 90 %], DiskFree [2 GB, MAX]

    Bandwidth 2 Mbps, MAX]


    Latency(A, B) [0, 200 ms]

    Bandwidth(A, B) [1 Mbps, 10 Mbps]}


    Peer-to-Peer Netw. Appl. (2013) 6:257276 261

  • and evolve based on changing resource availability anddynamic application demands in a robust and scalable man-ner. The term resource discovery typically refers to the firstthree phases [16, 1925] whereas the term resource aggre-gation refers to the overall process of advertising, discover-ing, selecting, matching, and binding resources.

    Implementation of these phases is nontrivial, as heteroge-neous, multi-attribute, dynamic, and distributed resources andtheir diverse resource relationships make collaboration quitecomplex. Nevertheless, a good solution should efficientlyadvertise all the resources together with their current state,discover potentially useful resources, select resources thatsatisfy application requirements, match according to applica-tion and resource constraints, and bind resources and applica-tions to ensure required QoS guarantees. Moreover, theoverall solution needs to be adaptive, fault tolerant, robust,and should satisfy multiple aspects of scalability such as queryresolution latency, number of messages, size of resource in-dex, size of routing tables, and number of attributes. Incen-tives, trust, privacy, and security have to be an integral part ofthe phases as they have a direct impact on users resourcecontribution and resource collaboration, as well as the long-term stability of a collaborative P2P system. Implementationof these phases depends on the P2P network organization, andbelow we discuss alternative design choices using a represen-tative subset of P2P solutions. Our objective is to cover thespectrum of alternative design choices rather than provide anin-depth discussion of each solution. These design choices arediscussed in the context of phases of P2P resource collabora-tion; therefore, our discussion is complementary to prior sur-veys on multi-attribute resource lookup [26, 27].

    3 State of the art

    P2P architectures can be broadly categorized as structuredand unstructured overlays [28], the features of which are

    compared in Table 1. Unstructured overlays are attractive asthey are relatively simple to construct and maintain. More-over, they distribute resource information across manynodes in the system while providing resilience and loadbalancing. Structured P2P systems are known for high scal-ability and some guarantees on performance, and hence areutilized in large-scale and relatively robust environments.These systems use a Distributed Hash Table (DHT) to indexresources. Each DHT node and a resource have a uniqueidentifier called a key. Each resources contact information isindexed, i.e., stored, at a node having a close by key in thekey space. A deterministic overlay network is used to routemessages that advertise RSs and query for resources. Chord,Kademlia, CAN, and Pastry are some well-known solutionsused to build such structured overlays [28]. A representativesubset of centralized, unstructured, and structured overlay-based solutions that support different phases of resourcecollaboration is discussed next.

    3.1 Centralized solutions

    Though collaborative P2P applications are distributed, to easethe resource aggregation, RSs can be advertised and indexedat a well-known central location within or outside the P2Psystem. Such indexes are utilized in PlanetLab [29], GENI,grids, and cloud computing. A centralized index can resolvecomplex multi-attribute range queries by selecting, matching,and binding the best set of resources, as it is aware of all theresources in the system and their constraints. Kee et al. [17]proposed an efficient algorithm that integrates selecting,matching, and binding resources. Furthermore, latency andcost of resource advertising and querying are minimum asnodes can directly communicate with the central node, i.e.,cost per message is O(1). However, this approach is notscalable and could lead to a single point of failure. Suchfailures are not desirable in mission critical systems such asCASA. Hierarchical indexes are proposed to overcome some

    Table 1 Comparison of structured vs. unstructured P2P systems

    Unstructured P2P Structured P2P

    Overlay construction High flexibility Low flexibility

    Resources Indexed locally (typically) Indexed remotely in a distributed hash table

    Query messages Broadcast or random walk Unicast

    Content location Best effort Guaranteed

    Performance Unpredictable Predictable bounds

    Object types Mutable, with many complex attributes Immutable, with few simple attributes

    Overhead of overlay maintenance Relatively low Moderate

    Peer churn & failure Supports high failure rates Supports moderate failure rates

    Applicable environments Small-scale or highly dynamic environmentswith (im)mutable objects, e.g., mobile P2P

    Large-scale & relatively stable environments withimmutable objects, e.g., desktop file sharing

    Examples Gnutella, LimeWire, Kazaa Chord, CAN, Pastry, Kademlia

    262 Peer-to-Peer Netw. Appl. (2013) 6:257276

  • of these limitations [9] where separate indexing nodes areassigned to different geographic regions, sites, or administra-tive domains. Then a higher-level node(s) is assigned to keeptrack of aggregate resources from multiple nodes. This ap-proach could lead to conflicts while querying and bindingresources, and partial failures in sub-regions of the systemare an issue. Moreover, aggregation along the hierarchyreduces the resolution at which RSs are advertised. Suchhierarchies are not desirable while indexing highly dynamicattributes such as free CPU and bandwidth.

    3.2 Unstructured-overlay-based solutions

    Unstructured P2P systems are based on random overlayswhere resources are advertised, discovered, and/or selectedby sending messages through flooding or random walks.Flooding can be used to advertise RSs and/or to selectresources on the fly using multi-attribute queries [3]. Eitherway, all the nodes/queries can get to know about all theresources in the system, which enables the most suitable setof resources to collaborate. However, as flooding is ex-tremely costly, this approach is suitable only for small-scale and/or mobile P2P applications.

    Gossiping is another form of disseminating resource in-formation in which RSs propagate in the network due topairwise exchanges of RSs between randomly selected nodepairs [30, 31]. Multiple concurrent agents are used to speedup the gossiping. A node selects resources by querying thelocally stored RSs that are gathered from gossiping. A nodecan perform simple resource matching within itself as it getsto know about multiple resources, e.g., are resources x andy from my friends?. Though this approach is simple toimplement, there is no guarantee that a node will get toknow about the resources that it needs even when they exist.Moreover, the state of knowledge about resources may bestale (e.g., state of dynamic attributes such as free CPU,memory, and bandwidth), as gossip propagation is unpre-dictable and slow.

    Majority of the unstructured P2P solutions are based onrandom walks where RS advertisements, resource discoveryprobes, and/or multi-attribute resource queries are forwardedfrom node to node via neighboring nodes selected randomly.Random walk is a specific form of gossiping where an agentmoves from one node to another (randomly selected) carryinga selected set of RSs or multi-attribute queries. In [19], a nodesends out multiple agents to advertise its RSs to other nodesalong their random walks and to collect RSs of nodes beingvisited. Multiple agents are sent to different regions of thenetwork to sample larger portions of the network and enhancethe robustness. Simple resource matching is also possible asagents collect RSs from multiple nodes. Though agents ad-vertise and discover resources, they do not provide guaranteedresource selection due to random sampling that occurs.

    Moreover, the state of the selected resources may be stale bythe time they are utilized. Same applies to agents that are sentto discover potentially useful resources without explicit re-source advertisements. Alternatively, inspired by the second-generation Gnutella P2P system, many solutions issue queriesas and when they need to select resources. Each query agentwalks from one node to another random node looking forresources specified in the query. When the relevant resourcesare found, the agent goes back to the query initiator directly, orvia the reverse path which helps to anonymize communicationbetween the resource provider and consumer. Agents have alimited lifetime, defined in terms ofmaximum number of hops(hopsmax), to prevent the accumulation of unresolved queryagents within the P2P system. Thus, the cost of resourceadvertising or querying is O(hopsmax) per agent. To increasethe probability of resource selection a node sends either sev-eral agents or one agent with a higher lifetime, i.e., largehopsmax. However, it is nontrivial to determine the optimumnumber of agents or hopsmax to guarantee resource selection inan arbitrary overlay network. Therefore, such solutions canonly provide a best-effort resource selection service. In [32],we observed that random-walk-based solutions can performbetter (lower hopsmax with moderate query-hit rate) under realworkloads which tend to define less specific queries with afew attributes and large range of attribute values. However, avery large hopsmax value is still needed to further improve thequery hit rate. Nevertheless, a query agent can identify thecurrent state of a resource and provide resource binding as itreaches individual nodes to check their resource availability.Resource matching can also be performed at the same time, ifa node has multiple resources (e.g., if a node has processingcapabilities and storage, it can match a query searching for aprocessing node and a storage node with a given inter-nodebandwidth/latency. Past-query results can be used to bias therandom walk towards potential resources while reducing thequery overhead and latency. However, such optimizations areonly applicable to static or slowly varying dynamic attributessuch as CPU speed, operating system version, and free diskspace [15]. Another alternative is to build a hybrid systemwhere one set of agents advertises the RSs while another setqueries for required RSs. While this speeds up the queryresolution, it may not reflect the correct state of dynamicresources and also eliminates the possibility of resource bind-ing as queries are answered by intermediate nodes.

    Another alternative is a two-layer overlay (similar toKazaa [28]) where resource-rich peers, namely superpeers,form a separate overlay while acting as proxies for rest ofthe peers [20, 30, 31]. Each superpeer keeps track of RSs ofa subset of peers. Superpeers advertise, discover, and/orselect resources on behalf of their peers by contacting othersuperpeers through flooding [20], gossips [30, 31], or ran-dom walks. This approach enhances multi-attribute queryresolution, as superpeers are aware of multiple RSs.

    Peer-to-Peer Netw. Appl. (2013) 6:257276 263

  • Moreover, overhead is reduced as only the superpeers areinvolved in advertising, discovering, and selecting resour-ces. In [32], we observed that superpeers could resolve real-world queries with relatively high hit rate under moderateoverhead. Advertising cost can be further reduced by adver-tising only the aggregate information about resourcesindexed at a superpeer [30], e.g., total number of CPU coresor total processing capacity (measured in FLOPS) of all thepeers assigned to a superpeer. Though such aggregatedattribute values are acceptable for desktop grids and bag-of-task applications [30], they are too abstract for latencysensitive applications such as CASA, mobile social net-works, and P2P clouds where performance is determinedby the interactions among dynamic and individual resour-ces. Nevertheless, superpeers can provide resource bindingon behalf of their peers. Moreover, they have the potential toact as matchmakers when the peers in the same neighbor-hood or with different resources are assigned to the samesuperpeer.

    Unstructured P2P solutions provide a best-effort servicefor discovering, selecting, and binding resources. They areapplicable in small to medium scale applications and inhighly dynamic environments such as ad-hoc and mobilesocial networks. Issuing queries on the fly is more usefulbecause multi-attribute range queries can be easily resolvedas agents reach individual nodes. This further enables re-source binding. Depending on the specific implementation,a restricted form of resource matching is also possible. If anode cannot match all the relevant resources by itself, in-formation on all the resources that satisfy the resourceselection phase has to be provided to the application thatinitiated the query. In the worst case, this may requiresampling all the resources in the system, as what resourcesmay match cannot be determined a priory. The applicationthen takes the final decision on resource matching andbinding. Nevertheless, random topologies in unstructured

    P2P systems make it hard to keep track of complex inter-resource relationships. Therefore, resource relationshipshave to be discovered as required. For example, after select-ing potential resources, an application may request resour-ces to verify whether they can reach each other and the nodeinitiating the application (e.g., by sending ping messages),measure bandwidth/latency between them, or evaluate theirsocial relationships. However, discovering such relation-ships on the fly takes time and increases overhead, e.g.,sufficient number of packets and time are needed to estimatethe bandwidth between a pair of nodes. Superpeers providea viable alternative where a superpeer can at least keep trackof relationships among resources that are assigned to it.

    3.3 Structured-overlay-based solutions

    Table 2 compares alternative design choices available forstructured P2P systems (see [28] for details). Let us brieflydiscuss Chord, as several resource discovery solutions underdiscussion depend on it. Chord maps both peers/nodes andresources into a circular address space, namely a ring, usingconsistent hashing. A node is assigned to a random locationwithin the ring and is responsible for indexing keys that mapinto its contiguous range of addresses. A resources identi-fier, e.g., file name, is hashed to produce a key, and the (key,value) pair is then stored at its successor (i.e., closest peer inthe clockwise direction). value can be either the resourceitself (e.g., file) or its contact details (e.g., IP address andport number of the node having the resource). Each peermaintains a set of pointers, known as fingers, to peers thatare at an exponentially increasing distances within the ring.These fingers are used to recursively forward a query to itssuccessor within O(log n) hops, where n is the number ofnodes in the overlay. Chord and other structured P2P sol-utions are designed to index objects that are characterized bya single attribute. Thus, they are not efficient for

    Table 2 Summary of structured P2P solutions

    Scheme Architecture Routing mechanism Lookupoverheadab

    Routingtable sizea



    CAN d-torus Greedy routing through neighbors O(dn1/d) 2d 2d Moderate

    Chord Circular key space Successor & long distance links O(log n) O(log n) O(log2 n) High

    Cycloid Cube connected cycles Links to cyclic & cubical neighbors O(d) O(1) O(d) Moderate

    Kademlia Binary tree, XOR distance metric Iteratively find nodes close to key O(log n) O(log n) O(log n) High

    Mercury Circular key space Successor, predecessor, & long distance links O(1/k log2 n) k+2 k+2 Moderate

    Pastry Hypercube Correct one digit in key at time O(logB n) O(B logB n) O(logB n) Moderate

    Tapestry Hypercube Correct one digit in key at time O(logB n) O(logB n) O(logB n) Moderate

    Viceroy Butterfly network Predecessor & successor links O(log n) O(1) O(log n) Low

    aB base of a key identifier, d number of dimensions, k no of long distance links, n number of nodes in overlayb Lookup overhead number of overlay hops required to resolve a point query, Join/leave cost number of overlay maintenance messages requiredto stabilize the network after the arrival/departure of a node, Resilience ability to deliver messages under node failure

    264 Peer-to-Peer Netw. Appl. (2013) 6:257276

  • simultaneous selection of multi-attribute resources requiredby collaborative P2P applications. Next, we discuss severalsolutions that extend/modify structured P2P systems to sup-port multi-attribute resources.

    Figure 3 illustrates three design choices for the case ofmulti-attribute resources based on a ring-like overlay net-work. Mercury [21] maintains a separate ring for eachattribute type (see Fig. 3(a)). Each node advertises its RS(s)to rings that correspond to the attribute set of its resources.Instead of consistent hashing used in Chord, a Locality Pre-serving Hash (LPH) function is proposed. LPH functions mapclose by attribute values to neighboring nodes in the ringenabling range query resolution through a series of successors(Fig. 3). This enables a range query Q to be resolved byforwarding it to a series of nodes through their successor(see Fig. 3(a)). Given a range of attribute values [l, u], Q isfirst routed to the peer responsible for indexing l. Q is thenforwarded through successor pointers/fingers until the peerresponsible for indexing u is reached or the desired number ofresources is found, whichever comes first. Thus, number ofhops required to resolve a range query is proportional to thenumber of nodes n in the ring. Therefore, query resolution costis bounded byO(n) [15, 32]. Mercury utilizes single-attribute-dominated queries where Q is issued only to the ringcorresponding to the most selective attribute. For example,as seen in Fig. 3(a), the query travels 3-hops in the CPUSpeedand bandwidth rings while it travels only 2-hops in thememory ring. Therefore, Q is issued only to the memoryring, which is the most selective (i.e., minimum queryresolution cost) attribute for the given query. To supportsuch queries, each node keeps track of all attributes ofRSs that it indexes and uses a random-sampling algo-rithm to estimate the query selectivity within each ring.Therefore, the index size of a node is bounded by O(RA),

    where R is the number of resources in the system and Ais the number of attributes used to describe a resource.Even if one of the attributes of a resource changes, it hasto be advertised to all the relevant rings. Therefore,advertising cost can be significant when the collaborativeP2P system has a large number of dynamic attributes thatchange rapidly [15, 32]. Mercury can add new rings tosupport additional attributes with minimum modifica-tions. However, a large number of routing entries asso-ciated with multiple rings makes it inappropriate forcollaborative P2P systems such as CASA and GENI thatneed to support a diverse set of resources characterizedby tens to hundreds of attributes. In [15], it was observedthat multi-attribute queries in real-life systems areskewed, i.e., a small set of attributes and attribute valueranges were highly popular. Such a skewed distributionof queries distributes the load among rings unequally,with the segments of the rings corresponding to thesepopular ranges of attribute values getting highly utilizedwhile majority of the ranges/rings are underutilized.

    Figure 3(b) illustrates an alternative design based on apartitioned ring. LORM (Low-Overhead, Range-query, andMulti-attribute) [22] assigns a different segment of the ringto each attribute type. Attribute values are represented as abit string where prefix bits represent the segment in the ring(i.e., attribute type) and suffix bits represent the positionwithin a segment. Suffix bits are generated by applying aLPH function to the attribute value. An application searchingfor resources issues a separate sub-query for each segmentaccording to the required set of attributes specified in Q.Query results are then combined at the application using ajoin operation like that in databases. MADPastry (Mobile AD-hoc Pastry) [33] proposes a similar scheme for large-scalemobile ad-hoc networks. It segments the ring to preserve the

    CPU speed Memory Query routingBandwidth Pointers Peer originating query

    Fig. 3 Ring-based structured overlay designs: a Separate overlays foreach attribute type and single-attribute-dominated query resolution; bOverlay partitioned to accommodate multiple attribute types and query

    resolution using multiple sub-queries; c Overlay with overlapped attri-bute space and single-attribute-dominated query resolution

    Peer-to-Peer Netw. Appl. (2013) 6:257276 265

  • physical locality of nodes determined using a set of land-marks. Nodes that are close to the same landmark have iden-tical prefix bits. Sub-queries are first sent to the local segment.If the required resources are not found locally, sub-queries arethen sent to other segments. Another alternative is to build aset of hypercubes for each geographic region and then connectthem to form a backbone [34]. These solutions maintain amuch lower number of routing entries compared to Mercury.MADPastry and hypercube also provide resource matchingbased on latency and hop count because of their ability tolocate local resources. Although one of the attributes satisfiesa sub query, rest of the attributes of the resource may notsatisfy the application requirements. Therefore, most of theresources returned by a sub-query are not useful. Consequent-ly, multiple sub-queries and their tendency to return a largenumber of unsuitable resources increase the lookup overheadin all three solutions. Moreover, LORM also suffers from loadimbalance where skewed distribution of attributes in realworkloads [32] force several segments to be highly utilizedwhile remaining segments are rarely utilized. MADPastry andhypercube cannot be used in highly dynamic mobile ad-hocnetworks, as the structured overlay topology can be easilydisconnected/partitioned due to high mobility of peers.

    MAAN (Multi-Attribute Addressable Network) [23] pro-poses a single-attribute-dominated query mechanism for aring (Fig. 3(c)). It maps attribute values of a resource to thesame address space using a separate uniform LPH functionfor each attribute type. In addition to preserving the locality,uniform LPH functions also uniformly distribute hash val-ues across the ring thus providing static load balancing.Though use of an overlapped rings reduces the routing tablesize, the number of overlay hops required to resolve a rangequeries is still O(n) [15, 32]. Moreover, uniform LPH func-tions fail to balance the load when resource queries areskewed or when there are many identical resources, whichis known to be the case in production systems such as grids,

    desktop grids, clouds, and CASA [15, 32].Figure 4 shows another design where RSs are mapped to

    points in a d-dimensional torus where each dimension rep-resents one attribute type. MURK (Multi-dimensional Rec-tangulation with Kd-trees) [24] is one such solution thatdynamically partitions the torus and assigns each partitionto a separate node. Each node indexes all the RSs that mapinto its own partition. MURK keeps track of these partitionsby organizing them in the form of a k-dimensional tree.Dynamic load balancing is achieved by splitting/aggregat-ing the partitions based on the query load. A multi-attributerange query Q encloses a contiguous region (i.e., hyper-rectangle) on the torus, e.g., Q1 in Fig. 4(a). Real-worldqueries specify only a few attributes [15]; therefore, volumeof the hyperrectangle can be extremely large due to manydont care attributes. Queries are resolved using greedyforwarding, which forwards Q to each partition that overlapswith the query region. As Q propagates, each partitionreports the selected resources to the application that initiatedthe query, as it is not straightforward to aggregate resourcesfrommultiple partitions. As each partition is not aware of whatresources were selected by other partitions, Q has to visit allthe partitions that overlap with the query region even thoughenough resources may have been already found. Alternatively,MURK uses space-filling curves [24] to map the d-torus to aChord ring while reducing its dimensionality. Chord ringenables Q to aggregate potential resources as it propagatesand terminatesQ as soon as the desired number of resources isfound. It introduces additional overhead as nearby resourceson the d-torus are no longer mapped to a contiguous region onthe ring. Hence, query resolution cost is bounded by O(n).Moreover, space-filling curves loose locality when extendedto a large number of dimensions.

    Mercury, LORM, MAAN, and MURK provide only re-source advertisement and selection (resource discovery isnot required as resources are explicitly advertised). SWORD



    l d




    Fig. 4 2-dimensional torus: aMulti-attribute space parti-tioned among peers, and a que-ry is forwarded to all thepartitions that overlap with thequery region; b Multi-attributespace partitioned with respect topeer A, query is forwarded to allthe peers that overlap with thequery region, l level, d di-mension [25]

    266 Peer-to-Peer Netw. Appl. (2013) 6:257276

  • is a partitioned-ring-based architecture (see Fig. 3(b)) thatalso provides resource matching [16]. A query in SWORDcan specify a range of attribute values for each requiredresource, how to group the resources, intra-group andinter-group resource relationships/constraints, and penaltiesfor not satisfying them. As it is impractical to keep track ofall the inter-resource relationships, SWORD clusters resour-ces/nodes into equivalence classes based on their Autono-mous System (AS). A designated node from each AS keepstrack of latency/bandwidth relationships between the ASs.Resources are either selected using a single-attribute-dominated query (as in MAAN) or multiple sub-queries(as in LORM). The selected resources are then used to forma set of candidate groups according to the applicationrequirements. Subsequently, resources in each candidategroup are matched based on inter-AS relationships. Groupsare then ranked according to the extent they satisfy applica-tion constraints and sent to the application allowing it to takethe final decision on which group(s) to use. AS-level meas-urements are too coarse grained and may not work well forbandwidth and other complex resource relationships, whichare required in CASA, GENI, and P2P clouds.

    Solutions discussed so far are applicable in semi-dynamicenvironments such as grid computing where resources donot change rapidly. Costa et al. argue that DHTs are ineffi-cient and incapable of accurately maintaining the state inhighly dynamic environments such as P2P clouds [25], andpropose to construct a d-torus using only the static attributesthat can be represented correctly (see Fig. 4(b)). In contrastto other structured P2P solutions, resources are not explic-itly advertised and indexed remotely. Instead, the overlaynetwork is formed by maintaining pointers to nodes withdifferent attribute values as seen in Fig. 4(b), which areidentified using gossiping. The torus is recursively

    partitioned into smaller and smaller hypercubes called cells.A query is first routed to one of the lowest-level cells, usingthe pointers maintained to other nodes that overlap with thequery region. Other overlapping cells are then recursivelytraversed using depth-first search until all the required oravailable resources are found. This approach can advertise,select, and bind resources as queries are forwarded to indi-vidual nodes where availability of resources and dynamicattributes defined in a query can be evaluated. However,depth-first search significantly increases the lookup over-head and latency, particularly under less specific queries inreal workloads [15, 32]. In [32], we also observed thatmajority of the queries in real-life systems specify only thedynamic attributes. This solution cannot be used in suchcases, as at least one static attribute is needed to initiate thequery resolution or entire d-torus has to be searched.

    Table 3 summarizes the different structured P2P solu-tions, and all the major solutions are compared in Table 4with respect to advertising, discovering, selecting, match-ing, and binding resources. There is no universal solutionand each has its own distinct advantages and limitations. In[32], we evaluate the performance of seven of these basicoverlay designs by simulating traces of multi-attributeresources and queries derived from PlanetLab [16, 29].Results show that structured and unstructured P2P designshave a much higher advertising and querying cost thananticipated in their original publications, and suffer fromload balancing issues where few nodes indexed most ofthe RSs and answered most of the queries. Compared toother solutions, cost of resolving single-attribute-dominatedqueries is relatively lower [32]. However, those solutionsalso have higher advertising cost, unbalanced query load,large resource indexes, and tend to inaccurately representa-tion state of dynamic resources due to the large number of

    Table 3 Comparison of structured P2P solutions

    Scheme Architecture Routing mechanism Lookup overhead(point query)a

    Lookup overhead(range query)a

    Routingtable sizea


    Mercury [21] Multiple rings Successor, predecessor& long distance links

    O(1/k log2 n) O(n) k+2 per ring Dynamic

    LORM [22] Partitioned ring Cycloid O(d) O(n) O(1) Static

    MADPastry [33] Partitioned ring(locality based)

    Pastry O(log n) O(n) O(log l) Static

    Hypercube backbone [34] Hypercube-basedbackbone

    Hypercube Local O(d)Remote O(D)

    O(n) (d) Dynamic

    MAAN [23] Single ring Chord O(log n) O(n) O(log n) Static

    MURK [24] d- torus CAN with long distancelinks

    O(log2 n) O(n) 2d+k Dynamic

    SWORD [16] Partitioned ring,resource matching

    Chord O(log n) O(n) O(log n) Static

    Resource-awareoverlay [25]

    d- torus partitionedinto cells

    Links to peers in othercells

    O(n) O(n) O(d) Static

    a n number of peers in overlay, k number of long distance links, d number of dimensions, D network diameter, l number of landmarks

    Peer-to-Peer Netw. Appl. (2013) 6:257276 267

  • replicas [15, 32]. Sub-query-based solutions can overcomemost of these issues but they have a significantly higherquery cost. Mercury, MAAN, LORM, and SWORD archi-tectures are extensible because they can add new attributeswithout significant modifications to the overlay. Except forSWORD, MADPastry, and hypercubes, the other solutionsdo not support any form of resource matching. Resource-aware overlay [25] is the only structured P2P solution thatsupports resource binding. However, it also has high querycost and cannot resolve queries with only the dynamicattributes. We believe these findings are also applicable tomany recent solutions that have been proposed based onthese alternative design choices. Moreover, many recentsolutions also do not address the problem of resource match-ing or binding.

    4 Incentives, trust, privacy, and security

    P2P systems are designed to be open, dynamic, collabora-tive, and perhaps even anonymous, and hence are vulnerableto abuse by selfish or malicious users. Success of a collab-orative P2P system depends on the extent to which userscontribute their resources for the common cause. Hence,proper incentives need to be in place to motivate users tocontribute their resources. However, users will continue tocontribute their resources only if they feel that other usersare trustworthy and are also contributing to the commoncause without trying to game the system for their ownadvantage. Furthermore, users also need to feel safe thattheir accumulated incentives, gained trust, privacy, and se-curity will not be compromised while they continue tocontribute resources. Therefore, incentives, trust, privacy,and security are related and need to be consistently enforcedthroughout all the key phases of resource collaboration.Next, we briefly discuss a representative subset of solutionsthat have been proposed to address these concerns.

    Incentives need to be embedded into a collaborative P2Psystem as they encourage resource contribution and collabo-ration while enabling the applications to accomplish theirtasks with sufficient performance and quality. Incentivesmay be based on monetary or nonmonetary benefits. Forexample, Napster and BitTorrent utilize various Web 2.0technologies to build online communities of users aroundcommon interests [35]. Members of a community may altru-istically contribute their resources for the satisfaction of beingin a community and for the recognition gained by becomingan active contributor. Similar incentives can work for collab-orative P2P applications such as CASA, crowd-sourcedweather monitoring, and mobile social networks deployedduring a rally or after a major disaster. However, Zhao et al.[36] showed that there is a tradeoff between altruism andsystem robustness, and analytically justified that a P2P systemTa














































































































































































    268 Peer-to-Peer Netw. Appl. (2013) 6:257276

  • should limit the degree of altruism to encourage cooperation.To this end, several monetary-benefit-based incentiveschemes (e.g., micropayments and scores) are proposed. Golleet al. presented several micropayment schemes for P2P filesharing and demonstrated their efficacy using game theory[35]. Furthermore, there is evidence that private BitTorrentcommunities already use various scoring schemes to keeptrack of user contributions in terms of bytes or number of filesuploaded [10, 11]. Members of such communities tend to takecost conscious decisions while deciding what files to uploadand download [10]. This approach can be extended to collab-orative P2P systems that rely on a centralized index, whichalso keeps track of micropayments/scores during resourcebind or release phases. However, centralized indexes are notscalable, prone to attacks, and cannot work with mobile socialand ad-hoc networks. Alternatively, a distributed paymentscheme based on a DHT is presented in [37]. [37] representsa node ns resource contribution/consumption as an increas-ing/decreasing scalar value vn. vn is replicated on a set of DHTnodes called bankers (e.g., k-nearest neighbors of n in theDHT). Multiple replicas are maintained to increase resilienceand minimize the possibility of all bankers being attackedsimultaneously. This approach can be extended to large-scale P2P clouds, CASA, and GENI, which may utilize aDHT-based resource discovery system.

    Collaborative applications need to be able to find trustableresources that can collaborate with each other to accomplishthe desired end result. Trust relationships among resourcesmay be developed based on credentials, reputation, and socialconnections of resource owners. Credential-based solutionsestablish a binary trust (i.e., trust completely or not at all)relationship between a pair of resources based on some cre-dential such as a digital certificate or a shared secret. Suchbinary trust relationships are primarily used to enforce securityand access control to resources. They are appropriate in appli-cations such as CASA and GENI, which consists of differentclasses of end users, and are administered by specific organ-izations. Another measure of trust is the mutual reputation thatresources place on each other based on their past interactions.Reputation can be defined in terms of the accuracy of datagenerated by a sensor, reliability of computed results, avail-ability of resources, ability to meet deadlines, etc. When tworesources interact with each other, they establish a local trust/reputation value (both resource provider and consumer mayrate each other). Let rLocal(i, j) be the reputation that resource jplaces on resource i. These rLocal(i, j) values are then aggre-gated to build a global trust value rGlobal(i) of a resource.rGlobal(i) values are useful in predicting how two resourcesthat never interacted in the past will behave in the future.While the calculation of rLocal(i, j) is application and resourcespecific, several solutions have been proposed to calculaterGlobal(i). In [38], rGlobal(i) is calculated by aggregatingrLocal(i, j) values provided by a predefined set of highly trusted

    resources. This approach is not suitable for P2P systems withhigh churn as failure of highly trusted resources is catastroph-ic. Alternatively, [39] proposes a mechanism to dynamicallyidentify highly trusted resources within the overlay networkby arranging them on a DHT using a locality preserving hashfunction. Both [38, 39] do not provide good incentives forresource collaboration, as resources are motivated to provideservices only to the set of highly trusted resources to gainbetter reputation. Moreover, a set of highly trusted resourcesmay potentially become a single point of failure as they maybecome overloaded or an easy target for attackers. This prob-lem can be overcome by weighting each rLocal(i, j) value byrGlobal(j) of the nodes providing feedback (i.e., rGlobali


    rLocal i; j rGlobalj ) [40]. An alternative design in [41]assumes that all the resources behave selfishly and representreputation in terms of a virtual currency where a resourcesreputation is reflected by its wealth.Moreover, it forms groupsof resources that trust each other and group members worktogether to protect their group trust against malicious resour-ces. Each group keeps track of trust values of all the othergroups in the system. [40, 41] can be used with both structuredand unstructured overlays. However, it is not straightforwardto maintain a consistent view of trust values among nodes andgroups without a costly synchronization or update scheme.Moreover, it is not known whether [40] converges to a stableset of trust values [39]. Trust values can be updated during theresource binding and release phases and can be evaluatedwhen selecting and matching resources. Bootstrappingreputation-based trust systems is also an issue as a sufficientnumber of local trust values need to be accumulated before areliable global trust value can be calculated. This is particu-larly a problem in short-lived mobile social and ad-hoc net-work applications. In such cases, social networks amongresource owners can be taped in as an initial estimation oftrust. Collaborative applications that have access to the Inter-net can tap into online social networks through standard APIsthat are being exposed by social network providers. Suchsolutions can evaluate thrust based on whether resourcesbelong to friends or friends of friends, and so on. When accessto online social networks is not possible, resources may startwith a random set of known resources as witnesses, e.g.,physically close by mobile phones [42]. When two resourcesthat do know trust each other want to collaborate, they look forat least one common witness to establish the trust betweenthem. It has been shown that this approach works well in fast-mixing, scale-free networks [42]. However, not all collabora-tive P2P systems are scale free and a large number of initialwitnesses are needed to guarantee that any two resources canfind a common witness with a high probability.

    Privacy of resource provider is also important, and mon-itoring by third parties of their resource contribution andusage patterns may discourage the participation. Moreover,

    Peer-to-Peer Netw. Appl. (2013) 6:257276 269

  • secure communication may be also required among resour-ces collaborating on a given application. While public keyinfrastructure can facilitate secure channel establishmentwithin applications such as CASA, GENI, and P2P clouds,shared keys and key pre-distribution may be desirable inmobile social and ad-hoc networks. Privacy preservation inP2P systems is mainly accomplished through anonymitywhere messages are routed through multiple hops in theoverlay network preventing resource provider, consumer,and intermediate nodes from knowing who is talking towhom. However, anonymity is a problem when it comesto enforcing incentives and assessing trust among resourcesas micropayments and trust values are associated with re-source identifiers. Moreover, if security enforcement is re-quired to make resources accountable for their actions, itmay have to be based on a globally unique identifier. Choi etal. [43] propose to overcome this problem by replacing useridentity with a temporary network address and a set ofpseudonyms approved by a Certifying Authority (CA). CAmediates all initial communication requests among resour-ces and provides authenticity and accountability for resour-ces. While this solution prevents intermediate nodes fromspying on each other, CA can now spy on all the resources.The same issue persists with P2P resource aggregationsolutions based on a centralized index. Thus, CA not onlybecomes a single point of failure but also may demotivateresource collaboration, particularly in P2P cloud and mobilesocial networks. Furthermore, how anonymity and privacy areimplemented on a particular collaborative P2P system has animpact on all the phases of resource collaboration as eachphase keeps track of resources by their identifiers and RSs.

    Open access provided by P2P systems make them easytargets for attacks compared to other distributed systems.Overlay routing tables and resource indexes can be easilycompromised to divert applications to malicious resourcesto initiate man in the middle or Denial of Service (DoS)attacks. Peers may also pick specific keys to place them-selves on desired places in a DHT to provide bogus answersto queries. It has been proposed to use a CA to assignoverlay keys and provide digital certificates to resources,which can be used to sign RSs and overlay route advertise-ments. However, verification of certificates and key revoca-tion is not straightforward unless direct access to CA(s) isavailable, which may not be possible in contexts such asmobile social and ad-hoc networks. Other forms of DoSattacks can be initiated by overloading the resource indexeswith many RS advertisements and less specific queriesrequesting a large number of resources and the entire do-main of attribute values. Solutions to such issues may in-volve rate limiting RS advertisements and queries andforcing users to specify queries that are more specific.Furthermore, resource contributors should be protected frombeing victims of malicious resource consumers. Otherwise,

    the entire collaborative P2P system will easily become alarge botnet. Alternatively, collaborative applications shouldbe protected from malicious or compromised resources.Such attacks can be minimized using techniques such assandboxing, virtual machines, and service oriented architec-ture that exposes services through a well-defined API [44].For example, prototype CASA radars are exposed to con-current GENI users through virtual machines [18]. Table 5groups the different solutions based on the tradeoffs madeand their strengths and weaknesses.

    5 Research opportunities and challenges

    Emerging collaborative P2P applications will require dis-covery and utilization of different types of resources toaccomplish greater tasks that cannot be accomplished withtraditional systems. Diversity in resources, applicationrequirements, and complex inter-resource relationships pres-ent new challenges not encountered in conventional P2Psystems. Our analysis of two real-world systems, PlanetLaband SETI@home, shows that multi-attribute resource andquery characteristics diverge substantially from convention-al assumptions [15]. For example, resource attributes andtheir rate of change are somewhat correlated and follow amixture of probability distributions (e.g., Gaussian, gener-alized Pareto, and generalized extreme value distributions).Furthermore, categorical attributes, e.g., CPU architectureand operating system, are highly skewed and do not fit astandard distribution. Rate of change in dynamic attributes,e.g., free CPU, memory, and bandwidth differ from oneattribute/node to another, and some of the attributes changedvery frequently. These factors contribute to a large resource-advertising cost. Moreover, it is typically assumed that RSsadvertised by gossiping and random walk or indexed in aDHT will expire after a predetermined timeout. However,given that rate of change in dynamic attributes differ fromone attribute to another and from one resource to another, itis nontrivial to determine a suitable timeout for each attri-bute or RS. Consistency of attribute values is important inmission critical or latency sensitive applications such asCASA and P2P clouds. Hence, to maintain the consistencyof indexed resources in a DHT, each update to a dynamicattribute had to be preceded by a removal of the old attributevalue. Therefore, cost of resource advertising in DHTs ef-fectively doubles. Such removal is not practical in unstruc-tured P2P as an agent carrying a removal message, as agossip or random walk, may not travel the same path takenby the previous advertisement agent. Though resources arerepresented using tens of attributes, they are queried usingonly a few attributes [15]. Dynamic attributes are highlypopular where queries mostly specify attributes such as freememory, CPU load, and transmission rate. Queries are less

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  • Table 5 Solutions for P2P resource collaboration grouped according to tradeoffs made and their strengths and weaknesses

    Schemes Applicable for Strong aspectsa Weak aspectsa

    Centralized Small to medium scale, static networks Complex & mutable resources Single point of failure

    Guaranteed resource discovery All phases of resource collaboration O(R) index

    Centrally administered O(1) advertise & query cost O(Q) query load

    Applications Extendable to support new attributes Lower privacy & trust as centralizednode is the only source of trust Single site grid & cloud computing Track & enforce incentives & trust

    Desktop grids Act as a CA to enhance security

    No routing state

    Hierarchical Medium to large scale, geographicallydistributed, static networks

    Complex & mutable resources O(R) resource index at higher levelnodes or resolution degradation ifaggregated

    Guaranteed resource discovery All phases of resource collaboration Local failures & partitioned hierarchy

    Multiple administrative domains O(1) advertise & query cost Resource select, match & bind requirecollaboration across multiple nodesin hierarchy

    Applications Extendable to support new attributes Lower privacy

    Multisite grid & cloud computing Track & enforce incentives & trust Chain of trust is broken if higher-levelnodes are compromised Desktop grids Act as a chain of CAs to enhance


    O(1) routing state

    Unstructured + Flooding Small scale, static/dynamic networks Complex & mutable resources Very high advertise & query cost message implosion

    Guaranteed resource discovery All phases of resource collaboration Match resources only if RSs areflooded

    Highly robust Extendable to support new attributes Nontrivial to enforce incentives,security, & track trust

    Applications Privacy through anonymity O(n) routing state Mobile social networks Highly robust against node failures

    Mobile ad-hoc networks O(1) resource index

    Simple to build & maintain network

    Preserve locality in mobile networks

    Unstructured + Gossipingor Random walk

    Small to medium scale, static/dynamicnetworks

    Complex & mutable resources Very high advertise & query cost

    Best-effort resource discovery All phases of resource collaboration Not guaranteed to find resources

    Applications Extendable to support new attributes Limited ability to match resources

    Mobile social networks Privacy through anonymity Bind resources only if query agentsare used

    Ad-hoc networks Highly robust against node failures Nontrivial to enforce incentives,security, & track trust

    P2P clouds O(1) resource index Stale resource specifications

    Desktop grids Simple to build & maintain network O(n) routing state File sharing Better load distribution no explicit load

    balancing necessary

    Preserve locality in mobile networks

    Superpeer + Flooding,Gossiping, or Randomwalk

    Medium scale, static or semi-dynamicnetworks

    Complex & mutable resources Not straightforward to pick asuperpeer

    Best-effort resource discovery All phases of resource collaboration Not guaranteed to find resources

    Applications Extendable to support new attributes Superpeers can monitor peers & arethe only sources of trust

    P2P clouds Relatively simple to build & maintain O(n) resource index

    Desktop grids Relatively low advertise & query cost O(n) routing state File sharing O(1) advertising cost

    Privacy of peers through anonymity

    Ability to enforce incentives, trust, &security superpeers can act as CAs

    Robust against node failures

    Peer-to-Peer Netw. Appl. (2013) 6:257276 271

  • specific as they specify only 17 attributes, large range ofattribute values (e.g., 70 % of the queries requested free diskspace of 51,000 GB), and request for a large number ofresources (e.g., 42 % of the queries requested 50 or moreresources). In practice, it is also important not to overspecify a query as it limits the applicable pool of resources.We believe that these trends will remain even in collabora-tive P2P applications where users may not be informedenough to issue very specific queries. These findings inval-idate commonly used assumptions such as independent andidentically distributed attributes [45], uniform/Zipfs distri-bution of attribute values [22, 25], attributes having a largenumber of potential values [45], and queries specifying alarge number of attributes and small range of attribute val-ues [22, 23, 45]. Furthermore, simulation-based evaluationof seven resource discovery architectures using PlanetLabresource and query traces show that current designs perform

    poorly under real workloads [32]. Resource discovery costof these solutions was significantly higher than predicted byprior studies that were based on conventional assumptions.Moreover, due to less specific queries, the performancebound of ring-based designs was effectively O(n) insteadof the well-known O(log n). Furthermore, due to highlyskewed distribution of attributes and the small number ofpotential attribute values, resource discovery solutions (e.g.,[16, 2123, 25]) are also susceptible to significant loadimbalance. Therefore, further research is needed to enhancethe performance, load balancing, and robustness of resourcediscovery/aggregation solutions under real-workloads. It isalso important to take into account the complex correlationsand distributions of real-world resources and queries whiledesigning, validating, and evaluating future resource-aggregation solutions. Therefore, traces derived from real-world systems or synthetic datasets that capture such

    Table 5 (continued)

    Schemes Applicable for Strong aspectsa Weak aspectsa

    MADPastry & Hypercubebackbone

    Medium to large scale, static or slowlymoving networks

    Mutable resources Single attribute resources only

    Guaranteed resource discovery Resource selection & match O(n) range query cost

    Applications Physical locality somewhat preserved High cost of advertising mutableresources

    Mobile social networks O(log n) point query cost No resource bind

    Ad-hoc networks Match resources based on locality Match limited to locality

    Explicit static & dynamic load balancing Hypercube only

    Lacks security unless all nodes haveaccess to a CA

    Privacy through anonymity

    Ability to enforce incentives & trust

    Resource-aware overlay Large scale, relatively static networks Complex & immutable resources No mutable resources

    Immutable attributes Guaranteed performance O(n) range query cost

    Guaranteed resource discovery No RS advertise cost No resource match

    Applications Select & bind resources No dynamic load balancing

    Desktop grids O(A) routing state Moderate resilience to churn

    Static load balancing Lacks security unless all nodes haveaccess to a CAPrivacy through anonymity

    Track & enforce incentives & trust

    Ring-like overlays:Mercury, LORM, MAAN,MURK, SWORD

    Large scale, relatively static networks Complex & mutable resources O(n) range query cost

    Guaranteed resource discovery O(log n) point query cost O(Ak) routing state in Mercury

    SADQ or sub-queries O(log n) routing state High advertise cost if attributeschange frequently particularlyunder SADQ

    Applications Lower query cost under SADQ High query cost under sub-queries

    CASA Lower advertise cost under sub-queries No resource match & bind

    GENI Latency & bandwidth match in SWORD Index & query load imbalanced

    P2P clouds Easily extendable to support newattributes except for LORM &SWORD

    Moderate resilience to churn

    Desktop grid Privacy through anonymity Incentives, trust, & security have tobe tradeoff with anonymity

    File sharing Track & enforce incentives & trust Lacks security unless all nodes haveaccess to a CA

    aA No of attributes, CA Certifying authority, Q No of queries, R No of resources, SADQ Single-Attribute-Dominated queries

    272 Peer-to-Peer Netw. Appl. (2013) 6:257276

  • complex relationships have to be utilized [46]. It is alsouseful to design solutions for the desired goals and objec-tives of a given collaborative application(s) as no singlesolution can satisfy requirements of all the possible collab-orative P2P systems.

    There is still a need for a cohesive solution that canselect, match, and bind resources. It is desirable to combinethese phases together; otherwise, optimizations in one phasecould lead to conflicting results in following phases therebyreducing the opportunity for the best set of resources tocollaborate. Certain applications can also compensate forlack of resources. For example, distributed data fusionin CASA can compensate for lack of bandwidth be-tween a processing and a storage node by processingdata faster (due to inherent parallelism in data fusion) toaccommodate the extra delay introduced while transfer-ring data to the storage node. It is useful to identify andsupport such application specific compensations withinthe resource aggregation solution as they can enhancethe QoS and robustness. Such requirements can berepresented by complex queries that are mapped to apolygon on the attribute space, e.g., Q2 in Fig. 4(a).Representing and resolving such queries are not straightfor-ward and requires tight coordination between resource select-ing and matching phases.

    It is challenging to capture complex inter-resource rela-tionships accurately while introducing low overhead. Con-straints such as latency and bandwidth may need to besatisfied among the selected resources as well as betweenthe set of selected resources and the node that is trying todeploy the collaborative application. Satisfying such con-straints is nontrivial in centralized, superpeer, and DHT-based solutions as the queries are resolved by third-partynode(s). Latency or bandwidth measured to a third-partynode is not transitive to the selected resources or to the nodetrying to deploy the application. However, it has been dem-onstrated that network coordinates [47, 48], measuring per-formance to known landmarks [33], and random IP addresssampling [49] could be used to estimate inter-resource la-tency without involving the third-party node. However,these measurements need to be performed a priory. More-over, further research efforts are needed to enhance theiraccuracy, reduce overhead, and support other inter-resourcerelationships such as bandwidth, packet loss, jitter, andconnectivity. Approaches such as P4P [50] and ALTO [51]will be required to infer about the physical topology andconnectivity. However, these solutions have not gainedmuch attention in production P2P systems, as users seemto be unwilling to trust ISPs suggestions. In applicationssuch as mobile social networks, P2P clouds, and P2P marketplaces, awareness of peers/users social networks is alsoimportant, as it will determine what resources can be trusted,shared, with whom, and to what extent.

    Solutions designed to support incentives, trust, privacy,and security in conventional P2P systems need to be ex-tended to support interaction among multiple groups ofheterogeneous/incompatible resources in collaborative P2Psystems. Multi-attribute resource aggregation solutions cantreat incentives and reputation values as another set ofattributes. However, they are hard to enforce in unstructuredP2P systems, as there are no designated nodes/resources tokeep track of resources incentives and trust values. Even ifsuch resources can be nominated, other resources may notknow how to reach them. Incentives and reputation valuesneed to be preserved even after a resource leaves the system(due to failure or churn), as it is costly and time consumingto regain those values when the resource rejoins. Moreover,trust/reputation values may never converge if the network isprone to high churn. In [52], it has been proposed to tap intosocial networks of resource owners to both bootstrap thetrust network and during periods of high churn. However,alternative approaches are needed for networks that do nothave access to social networks. [42] is an initial step in thisdirection; however, its efficiency and reliability need to beenhanced. Furthermore, security, integrity, and accountabil-ity of nodes maintaining incentives and trust values are ofutmost importance, as they can become easy targets forattacks. Guidelines need to be identified for determiningcredits/payments and reputation scores for heterogeneousresources. For example, while both a radar and a set of raingauges are important for weather monitoring, formally eval-uating the cost and perceived value of such systems in aconsistent manner is difficult. Moreover, while a computedresult must be always accurate, accuracy of sensor data isdependent on many dynamic parameters. Formal analysis ofincentive schemes such as [36] need to be extended tounderstand under what conditions a collaborative P2P sys-tem will be robust and when will it collapse. Trust can betask based or situational, where two resources that wouldnot otherwise collaborate with each other may collaboratefor a specific cause, e.g., a mobile social network deployedafter a disaster. Hence, it is important to support both long-term trust values and task-based ones. Centralized orsuperpeer-based index is not desirable when anonymity isimportant. Anonymity is in conflict with incentives, trust,and security; hence, it is important to look for distributedsolutions that overcome this limitation. Existing solutionsrely mostly on digital certificates (self-signed, signed by aCA, or chain of CAs) to enforce access control, integrity,and other security issues. However, it is nontrivial to enforcethose unless at least a subset of the resources has access to aCA(s). Moreover, access rights should be transferable asautonomous agents may be deployed to carry out collabo-rative applications on behalf of their users (e.g., a sensordirectly talking to a processing node). Therefore, solutionsthat are specifically designed for isolated, collaborative, and

    Peer-to-Peer Netw. Appl. (2013) 6:257276 273

  • distributed environments are needed. Because the keyphases of resource collaboration and incentives, trust, pri-vacy and security are essential elements of a collaborativeP2P system, their performance should also be evaluated inthe context of the overall system. Issues related to incen-tives, trust, privacy, and security might seem to be over-weighting the benefits of collaborative P2P systems.However, with right tools and incentives in place, it willbe more useful, efficient, and rewarding to accomplish agreater task through collaboration.

    Distributed resource binding could create conflictsamong peers hence there is also a need for distributedresource negotiation. Heterogeneous P2P systems have di-verse resources that are characterized by tens of attributes(e.g., CASA and GENI). Such a large number of attributeshinders the performance of all the existing solutions. More-over, our findings show that 80 % of the queries in Planet-Lab specify at most two attributes [32]. Therefore, whileindexing resources, it is sensible to depend on a small set ofattributes that are essential to characterize a resource or usedimension reduction techniques. Rest of the attributes, in-cluding some of the dynamic ones, could be checked atindividual peers, which is anyway necessary if resourcebinding is required (except in centralized and superpeerarchitectures). However, performance and QoS of laten-cy sensitive applications such CASA and P2P cloudsdepend on dynamic attributes; hence, a primary subsetof dynamic attributes need to be advertised at a highergranularity.

    Centralized solutions are becoming more feasible, afford-able, and reliable due to the recent advancement in distrib-uted datacenter technologies. When applicable/feasible,centralized solution is a better option, as it can advertise,select, match, and bind resources, and enforce incentives,trust, and security. However, it lacks privacy and prone toattacks, as the centralized node is the only source of trust inthe system. Furthermore, with increased levels of integra-tion, even the systems within datacenters systems exhibitattributes of distributed systems. Superpeers provide proba-bly the best design choice as they are distributed and simul-taneously support resource advertising, selecting, matching,and binding [15] yet further research is needed to bettersupport resource matching, inter-superpeer resource sharing,and to obtain predictable performance. Single-attribute-dominated queries on a single ring [16, 22, 23] is suitablefor structured P2P systems. However, issues related toskewed distribution of attributes, high cost of advertisingdynamic attributes, load balancing, matching, and bindingneed to be addressed. Moreover, standard approaches suchas caching and replication are not that effective as attributevalues are highly dynamic. Hence, alternative solutions thatcan benefit from skewed distribution of resources andqueries need to be developed. Addressing all these

    challenges is essential to realize the full potential and capa-bilities of collaborative P2P systems.

    6 Summary

    Collaborative P2P systems require the ability to aggregatecomplex groups of heterogeneous, multi-attribute, distribut-ed, and dynamic resources as and when needed. The processof resource aggregation is illustrated by identifying a set ofkey phases and their relevance to emerging collaborativeP2P applications exemplified by systems such as CASA,GENI, P2P clouds, and mobile social networks. State-of-the-art resource discovery/aggregation architectures werecompared with respect to their ability to support key phasesof resource aggregation, lookup overhead, load balancing,scalability, incentives, trust, privacy, and security. It wasobserved that existing architectures are applicable only un-der specific conditions, cannot cohesively support resourceselection, match, and bind, and perform poorly under real-istic workloads. These limitations points out the need fornovel solution(s) that can effectively aggregate resources inreal-world collaborative P2P systems. We are currently de-veloping a multi-attribute resource aggregation solution thatsupports all the key phases of resource aggregation whileovercoming limitations in existing architectures.

    Acknowledgments This research is supported in part by the Engi-neering Research Center program of the National Science Foundationunder NSF award number 0313747.


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    H. M. N. Dilum Bandarareceived B.Sc. (First ClassHonors) in Computer Scienceand Engineering from Universityof Moratuwa, Sri Lanka in 2004and M.S. in Electrical and Com-puter Engineering from Colo-rado State University in 2008.He is currently a Ph.D. candidateat Colorado State University. Heis a lecturer at Dept. of Comput-er Science and Engineering,University of Moratuwa, SriLanka since 2005 (currently onstudy leave). His research inter-

    ests include P2P systems, sensor networks, distributed data fusion, andnetwork security. He is the president of the Student Leadership Councilat NSF Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sens-ing of Atmosphere (CASA) and a student member of the IEEE.

    Anura P. Jayasumana is a Pro-fessor in Electrical & ComputerEngineering and Computer Sci-ence at Colorado State Universi-ty. He is a member of the NSFEngineering Research Center forCollaborative Adaptive Sensingof Atmosphere (CASA). He re-ceived Ph.D. and M.S. in Elec-t r i c a l E n g i n e e r i n g f r omMichigan State University, andB.Sc. in Electronic and Telecom-munications Engineering withFirst Class Honors from Univer-sity of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. His

    current research interests include sensor networking, network proto-cols, and performance modeling. Anura also serves as a consultant toindustry; his past clients range from startups to Fortune 100 companies.He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, ACM and IEEE.

    276 Peer-to-Peer Netw. Appl. (2013) 6:257276

    Collaborative applications over peer-to-peer systemschallenges and solutionsAbstractIntroductionPhases in resource collaborationState of the artCentralized solutionsUnstructured-overlay-based solutionsStructured-overlay-based solutions

    Incentives, trust, privacy, and securityResearch opportunities and challengesSummaryReferences


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