BUSINESS

Will The Cloud Of The Future Be Decentralized

The decentralized cloud model began to emerge last year and is slowly progressing to assert itself little by little as a serious alternative to the giants Alibaba Cloud, AWS, or even Microsoft Azure. Blockchain is at the heart of these new decentralized cloud models, which promise a system that is both more efficient, less costly in resources, and more equitable.

Who Are The Decentralized Cloud Players

2017 and 2018 brought out severe decentralized cloud players in several countries worldwide. The Chinese Xunle I seems to have a head start by having already deployed more than a million OneThing Cloud servers among its customers, allowing the storage of personal data and files on 1000 petabytes.

What Is The Interest Of The Decentralized Cloud

Reduce Hosting And Runtime Costs

The goal of the decentralized cloud is to provide a similar solution to existing centralized clouds like AWS while achieving a significant cost reduction. The two most advanced players are Xunlei and iExec, an INRIA spin-off that launched its platform in November 2017. iExec presents itself as a computing power marketplace and allows users to buy and sell their computing power peer-to-peer like a tangible commodity. Based on an utterly liberal system leaving room for the development of competition, iExec’s cloud allows developers of decentralized applications to host their dApps and execute their Ethereum intelligent contracts at attractive and increasingly competitive prices worldwide. as new suppliers join the platform.

The solution also makes it possible to circumvent the scalability problems of the Ethereum network, which does not offer enough computing power to run all of its dApps efficiently. iExec provides publishers with an SDK to create applications directly on the platform. At present, the iExec Appstore presents about 40 applications.  Today, one of the main challenges is to seek to forge partnerships with different pet computing power providers to offer a sufficiently large offer on the marketplace. iExec currently works with Genesis Mining (cloud mining), Stimergy (connected boilers), Cloud&Heat (private cloud), and Qarnot Computing (servers-radiators).

Improve Hosting Security

In addition to the lower use costs, the decentralized cloud represents a significant advantage, mainly when it is based on a blockchain: it is, of course, a question of the storage’s security and the data’s execution. On iExec, the blockchain consensus mechanism is the Proof of Contribution and is based on an off-chain protocol. Each publisher pays a deposit and then is assigned a reputation score based on their ability to deliver a cloud service successfully. Everyone only gets their deposit back if they have delivered their service successfully.

Nevertheless, the distributed nature of a decentralized cloud represents a real challenge in terms of security. To address this problem, iExec has optimized its platform to use Intel SGX, which allows the execution of code and data in protected enclaves. The start-up is now developing with Intel SGX a complete end-to-end solution integrating SGX technology for their decentralized cloud. This device guarantees that each dApp is executed correctly and that each data is treated as expected without anyone having access to it and being able to falsify it, including its owner. iExec also works with other SX vendors, such as Scone and Fortanix.

The Decentralized Cloud, A Complex Deployment

If the decentralized cloud opens the doors to a more competitive, fairer ecosystem and greener, it remains much more complex to set up than a centralized cloud. This technical challenge requires heavy investment, estimated at $100 million in R&D for the Xunlei company since 2014. To host an application on a decentralized cloud, the workloads must be eligible for a distributed computing architecture. 

The decentralized cloud is, therefore, not always suitable for all applications, as it is sometimes difficult to set up. However, we find this type of architecture in various projects: financial prediction, learning AI (where the potential market is huge), or even graphic rendering. Processing is, of course, more complex than in the case of a centralized IT infrastructure, and some web environments will also be much more challenging to distribute.

The Advancement Of Distributed Ledger Technologies

Despite this complexity, distributed ledger systems (beyond the cloud domain) have experienced such a boom over the past two years that we are now in a position to ask ourselves if the platform economy as we know it today could last for the next 10 or 20 years. The decentralized web has every chance of progressing as much as the decentralized cloud in the face of growing rejection of the oligopolistic, even monopolistic excesses of the market giants.

Also Read: The Five Great Benefits Of Cloud Computing

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