The term “Blockchain” has become synonymous with “cryptocurrency” for many of us. However, it is in fact, the latest and greatest financial technology that completely transforms business transactions, supporting and using various cryptography models. Although the first boom in blockchain popularity did come from cryptocurrencies, the ongoing expansion of this technology into other areas is now in full swing.
One of the most explosive innovations developing rapidly is the use of blockchain technology in cloud computing. Many organizations use cloud storage and benefit from cloud computing technology. If blockchain gets incorporated into the mix, the chances of witnessing a real revolution in shaping entire industries rise dramatically. In this article, we will take a closer look at the application of blockchain in cloud computing systems.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud operators provide computing services such as storage, databases, networks, and data processing over the Internet rather than on local servers or personal computers. “The cloud” refers to a platform for hosting computing and storage resources. This is a so-called virtualized data center that is available for rent in exchange for a set fee.
Cloud services are more cost-effective than traditional data centers. Many large organizations worldwide are using cloud computing systems to solve data management challenges, reduce infrastructure, and maintenance costs.
Cloud computing working principles
Cloud computing services provide browser-based dashboards that enable IT professionals and developers to organize resources and effectively manage accounts.
Cloud services are also designed to work with REST APIs and Command Line Interfaces (CLI). Cloud computing uses a traditional distributed database architecture where data is stored on the computers of all participants.
Cloud computing history
Cloud computing can be traced back to the 1960s when John McCarthy and Douglas Parhill explored the idea of providing computing as a public utility.
IBM introduced the practical application of resource sharing in the 1970s with the concept of “time-sharing.” At a time when users were constrained by booking times and sequential computing or “batch processing,” IBM introduced RUSH (Remote Shared Hardware Users). This allowed multiple users to simultaneously use one computer’s computing resources through so-called virtual terminals, also known as “thin clients”.
These events are considered to be the birth of virtualization in computing, and in the 1990s, they formed the stepping stone to cloud computing. As the computing power of machines and the bandwidth of the Internet increased gradually, companies began to use these resources on-demand and in a dynamically scalable manner. Salesforce introduced in 1999 can be called the first successful cloud computing implementation to host its CRM system.
Cloud computing today
Cloud computing embodies the foundations of digital business. This industry has grown at an extraordinary pace over the past ten years. The cloud computing industry is expected to surpass $210 billion by 2022. We are seeing more and more ways to connect and collaborate, moving to the cloud.
This accelerated growth is due to the increase in the volume of work and the number of games on the Internet, increased consumer demand for bandwidth and content, the global growth in the number of smartphones, the rapid development of web and mobile applications, and high costs of managing developers on a local server.
Leading Centralized Cloud Service Providers (CSP) — Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Alibaba Cloud — dominate with a 71% market share. AWS alone is three times the size of Microsoft Azure, the second-largest player in the CSP market. Cloud computing is a concentrated and oligopolized market with ineffective pricing and anti-competitive practices such as split mining, where a large CSP copies the products of a small cloud company (already offered on its platform) and sells products that often include developments from unrivaled competitors. With market oligopolization, innovation, choice, and flexibility are stifled, and ongoing services are costly. In this market context, there are 8.4 million data centers, and experts estimate that 85% of server capacity is underutilized.
Blockchain and cloud computing
Companies around the world have realized that meeting the demands of digital business infrastructure takes a more decentralized approach. For greater access, flexibility, efficiency, and security, the cloud must evolve into a decentralized infrastructure. Innovations such as serverless technology are causing the computing paradigm shift, freeing developers from configuring and managing the server, and allowing them to manage the resources required to run applications.
Interest in blockchain technology is growing throughout the world and in every industry. Numerous leaks in the cloud computing sector have pushed many startups to consider using blockchain technology for financial transactions and storing confidential information. This shows that the centralized cloud computing approach is starting to lose its grip. This situation brings us back to a hybrid cloud approach, where companies incorporate blockchain in cloud computing and store data in both public and private clouds.
Using blockchain technology in cloud computing is associated with a number of benefits:
- Ownership tracking efficiency increase
- Enhanced data security
- Enhanced private keys security
- Continuous ledger control
- Fast recovery in force majeure situations
- Distributed supercomputers
Blockchain-based cloud computing projects
Golem is a decentralized marketplace where you can rent or lease your computing power in exchange of Golem tokens. It’s a kind of a supercomputer utilizing the power of on-chain computing. Their solution is designed for a small, addressable market, requires users to learn a new language, and has no cost advantage since there is no fixed pricing structure.
Dfinity is committed to exploring the territories of the blockchain interconnected with the Ethereum project’s original goals. Dfinity’s vision is built around the idea that the new Internet infrastructure should support a wide range of applications for end-users and enterprises. Social networking, messaging, search, storage, and peer-to-peer interaction are all examples of functionality that they plan to host on their public Web 3.0 cloud. It is worth saying that Dfinity is focused on smart contracts that have many restrictions.
Blockstack aims to provide a new type of decentralized Internet that gives users more control over their own data and makes it harder to censor content. Blockstack makes building decentralized apps as easy as building cloud apps. Developers use common libraries that simplify the process of creating solutions on the blockchain and do not require learning a new programming language. Users receive a universal login that does not require passwords and an encrypted drive that allows them to transfer their data to any application they want. Note that the project is based on the Bitcoin protocol and is not fully suitable for computing.
Ankr Network provides a cloud computing resource management platform, building an ecosystem of resource users, providers, application developers, consumers, and more. Ankr is building a complete cloud infrastructure and marketplace for containerized cloud services. Datacenter owners can monetize spare computing resources with the Ankr cloud platform. Node operators can use unoccupied cloud resources from data centers to launch blockchain nodes at a competitive price. The ANKR token is used as an asset for incentives, payments, and placement on the Ankr network.
Akash Network is the icing on the cake of our review. As a decentralized alternative to the cloud oligopoly, Akash Network is developing Supercloud. This decentralized cloud computing marketplace allows any data center and anyone with a computer to become a cloud service provider by securely offering their unused computing cycles. The Supercloud platform efficiently utilizes Tendermint and Cosmos and achieves impressive results by integrating cutting-edge containerization technologies with a unique bidding model to accelerate adoption. AKT is a utility token to provide economic security, stimulate early adoption, and stabilize exchange rates. Akash is also developing Supermini, a powerful portable supercomputer that allows users to become Akash cloud providers from the convenience of home or office. Akash technology is designed to meet general computing needs and broader market use. The platform is designed to serve the mainstream market and meet its growing needs. If the app runs on existing cloud providers such as AWS, Google Cloud, or Azure, it will be able to run on Akash.
The future is near
Blockchain is definitely the next step in ensuring information security. Data is stored on numerous nodes around the world and does not have a single point of vulnerability. This solves the problem of data protection in many possible unexpected scenarios. Files uploaded to the blockchain are controlled and accessible only to those parties who have a corresponding key to access encrypted files. Existing blockchain projects have certain drawbacks, but solutions such as Akash Network allow secure access to cloud computing at a tenfold cost reduction compared to the current vendors on the market.