Picture credit: Golem
Say hello to Golem. The goal of the Golem project is to allow users to rent unused computing power – think Airbnb for computers – and to create, not entirely modestly, ‘the new way the Internet will work’. But how is it going about this mission?
The answer: by utilising blockchain and paying users in cryptocurrency. In theory, the Golem network will be a decentralised ecosystem where dedicated software and the combined power of users’ machines will be able to complete any computing task.
Julian Zawistowski is CEO of imapp, the company which develops Golem. Describing the Golem project as ‘Uber for computers’ – or in the future, describing Uber as ‘Golem for cars’ – he explains how the idea came about when working on a ‘cool computing chemistry’ project. “We realised we had scaling up problems,” he tells CloudTech, “because at that point you never have enough computing power when it peaks, but then all of a sudden you need nothing… [it’s] very volatile.”
Enter Ethereum, a public blockchain platform which enables the ability for ‘smart contracts’ – protocols that can verify or enhance the performance of a contract. This enables the backbone for Golem; having an Ethereum-based transaction system can clear payments between providers, requestors, and software developers, while it also compares favourably for developing applications on the platform as opposed to other blockchains, such as Bitcoin.
“The idea of building Golem occurred to us only when we learned more about Ethereum and smart contracts,” says Zawistowski. “Then we realised you could use this blockchain layer with the logic that smart contracts give you to build a system like Golem.”
Golem recently announced the launch of a crowdfunding project, beginning on November 11, using its own Golem Network Token (GNT). Zawistowski explains the GNT is important to give the project flexibility and control, compared to other blockchain tokens, adding that the plan is to be able to deliver Golem as a standalone independent product in six months’ time.
The link between blockchain and cloud technologies – aside from the hype around blockchain being similar to the hype around cloud the better part of a decade ago, as Chirag Mehta recently put it – is an interesting one. If we take the concept of a distributed network of computers as being similar, and the concept of ‘blockchain as a service’ (BaaS), spearheaded by major cloud providers, such as AWS, Google, IBM, and Microsoft, then there is a link.
Zawistowski argues these are where the similarities end, however; not least with regard to redundancy. Redundancy in cloud, creating backup copies, is naturally important – but for blockchain, it’s on a much bigger scale to base the platform’s security. “The biggest advantage of blockchain technology is the biggest disadvantage at the same time,” he explains. “That may not be true for every technology, in details, but basically every node in the network does the same, and scaling up the network does in fact not add to its usability.
“Of course you want some redundancy on cloud for security, but there’s like a backup, a single, or two or three copies of what you’re doing – not 60,000 of them!”
Links between blockchain and cloud technologies will be explored in more detail at Blockchain Expo in Berlin and Santa Clara in 2017. Find out more at www.blockchain-expo.com