Distributed Computing is a concept which denotes the practice of utilising an interconnected network of systems to provide their combined power to remote users – but how is blockchain revolutionising this concept in 2018?
Centralised Distributed Computing
According to Statista: the present market leaders in the so-called ‘Public cloud software as a service (SaaS)’ market in 2017 were comprised entirely of centralised competitors.
Microsoft and Salesforce led the pack at 18% and 11.5% market share respectively. Adobe was the closest runner up at 6.7%, before a pack of providers falling within the 4% range: including Oracle, SAP, and Google.
The most notable applications of these centralised service providers use distributed cloud computing to provide benefits and services such as: remote storage of data and servers, access to processing power to organisations and private users with particularly high processing requirements, such as universities and laboratories / researchers.
Along Came Blockchain
Blockchain should be the perfect candidate for catalysing the next step in this similarly nascent and underutilized market because distributed computing is at the heart of decentralisation.
The most prominent example being the original Proof of Work (PoW) consensus mechanism, and distributed ledger technology– which “underpins crypto assets like bitcoin” – as conceived by Satoshi Nakamoto and implemented into the original Bitcoin system in 2009.
Any blockchain project that chooses to abide by the foundational principles of the PoW system can technically be considered as a ‘distributed computing’ backed project.
Ethereum, EVM, and Decentralised Apps
Sanjay Mahadi of Forbes.com stated that “Ethereum DApps” are “revolutionising the apps world via smart contracts” – and as a PoW based blockchain model, this could arguably make Ethereum one of the largest progenitors of decentralised distributed computing.
DApps is the name given to applications based upon the Ethereum blockchain framework, whilst Smart Contracts are a means of automated arbitrage and enforcement with regards to inter-party agreements.
The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) furthermore acts as the computational core which runs all of the decision-making processes associated with smart contracts and DApps, by utilising the combined power of Ethereum miner nodes.
The Current Contenders
With Ethereum’s ongoing transition towards a Proof of Stake (PoS) model: we can see that a lot of things have changed in the blockchain space, as has the idea of a commonality in conception of ‘distributed computing’.
On the one hand, we have organisations such as Gridcoin – which is one of the best-known modern solutions in this area. The project claims to “reward scientific computing” whilst also using a Proof-of-Stake consensus model. Gridcoin is among the distributed computing models to focus primarily on the research and academic communities.
Another project, going by the name of Ankr, alternately hopes to provide the business sector with decentralised distributed computing power through use of its own approach to the technology. The project recently impressed investors to the tune of $14.5million USD+ in funding, and gained approval from known groups associated with NEO and OKEx with it’s unique ‘Proof of Useful Work’ model) – made up of 150 investors.
The Future of Decentralised Distributed Computing
The next big step for distributed cloud computing won’t come from the markets (although they certainly help speed things up!), but from the innovators.
It’s not safe to say whether we’ve found any projects that could challenge the progenitors such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, but it’s clear that the development community still has more than a few surprises up its sleeves.
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