How Blockchain will clear away the Clouds
2017 was the breakout year for Blockchain and its benefits and current limitations are now well understood. 2018 will see distributed applications drive the next wave of Blockchain innovation.
Just as we moved the Company Datacenter to the Cloud, we will gradually move from the Cloud to distributed applications built on Blockchain technology. A shift primarily driven by a demand for increased control over personal data security, we will build our networks of friends, family and business contacts, and our data will securely reside on the devices that form the network.
These new distributed applications will not run on desktop computers or laptops, they will run on our smart phones. Blockchain opens the door to solutions that securely store data across a network of connected devices, technology that enables us to share data peer-to-peer without the need for a datacenter. Mobile devices have the connectivity, processing power and storage to make the Internet a second tier service. The latest 5G wireless network offers speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second and existing 4G networks already offer speeds beyond those available to many homes. Apples new iPhone X has been benchmarked at speeds comparable to that of a MacBook Pro, and the amount of device storage available has grown every year as users demanded higher resolution images and video.
To demonstrate how close this technology now is, consider a Blockchain that stores pointers to fragments of data that make up millions of data files — Images, Documents, Videos etc. These fragments are stored on thousands of connected devices. Every time you created a file, rather than storing it in a Cloud (which is ultimately a service hosted on physical servers in a datacenter), it would be split into hundreds of fragments and spread across a network of devices. You control who has access to the items you share, inviting people and their devices to join your network, sharing your files through a simple Distributed App (dApp).
A request for a file would see the fragments retrieved and reassembled on demand. Data would be encrypted at rest which means it’s useless to anyone who does not hold the key that enables the recall and reassembly of the files. Each fragment would be stored multiple times to ensure accessibility and resilience. A user would have access to almost unlimited storage and there would be no datacenter to hack.
The platform development would be funded by its own Currency. Users would buy Tokens and pay a small amount for the storage or retrieval of a file, and would receive payment in return for the space they make available to other users.
We are starting to see Distributed Application development platforms being released, removing a layer of complexity and the need for a developer to have deep knowledge of the underlying Blockchain technology.
While not mobile device focused, several companies have already realized the concept of Decentralized Cloud Storage.
Storj — https://storj.io / Whitepaper are based out of Atlanta,GA and have over 40,00 users, with a global footprint covering 70 Countries. Their ICO in 2017 raised $30M, and they had previously raised $3M in seed funding from Google Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures and Techstars. They use Ethereum smart contracts.
In their own words -”Storj is a platform, cryptocurrency, and suite of decentralized applications that allows you to store data in a secure and decentralized manner. Your files are encrypted, shredded into little pieces called ‘shards’, and stored in a decentralized network of computers around the globe. No one but you has a complete copy of your file, not even in an encrypted form.”
Filecoin are another company promoting decentralized storage — https://filecoin.io/ Whitepaper. The Filecoin Sale completed in September raising over $205M in USD, ETH, BTC, and ZEC.
“The Filecoin network achieves staggering economies of scale by allowing anyone worldwide to participate as storage providers. It also makes storage resemble a commodity or utility by decoupling hard-drive space from additional services. On this robust global market the price of storage will be driven by supply and demand, not corporate pricing departments, and miners will compete on factors like reputation for reliability as well as price.”
Other companies working in this space include Sia https://sia.techand MaidSafe https://maidsafe.net
The shift from Cloud to distributed applications will not happen overnight, many large organizations are only just getting to grips with the cloud, but distributed applications will grow in popularity in 2018 and their impact will be significant.
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