When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out at the beginning of 2020
the world made an unprecedented shift towards remote work. As a precautionary measure, some Internet service providers have temporarily reduced service levels.
But is over-provisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. However, in order to understand the alternative approach that we defend, you must first remember how the Internet works.
The basic protocol of the Internet, aptly named the
The Internet Protocol (IP) defines an addressing scheme that computers use to communicate with each other.
The requirements are still increasing as our screens get ever-increasing resolutions
The content delivery networks (CDNs) used by streaming services such as Netflix help solve the
problem by temporarily storing content near or even inside many ISPs.
But this strategy is based on the ability of ISPs and CDNs to conclude agreements and deploy the required infrastructure. And it can still leave the edges of the network having to handle more traffic than it really needs.
This diagram describes the information of a database table with two columns: node and content.
The diagram also shows the network nodes that query the database to find the location of the files they are looking for.
A scheme used by peer-to-peer systems to determine the location of a file is to keep this information in a centralized database.
Napster, the first large-scale peer-to-peer content delivery system, used this approach.
The key to IPFS is what is called content addressing
Instead of asking a particular provider, “Please send me this file,” your machine asks the network
The advantages of IPFS include faster and more efficient content distribution. But they don’t stop there. IPFS can also improve security by verifying the integrity of the content so that the data cannot be altered by intermediate actors.
And with IPFS, the network can continue to work even if the connection to the original server is cut off or if the service that initially provided the content experiences a failure.
To better understand how IPFS differs from most of what is happening online today, let’s take a look at the architecture of the Internet and some earlier peer-to-peer approaches.