Do you remember Napster? Napster was a wildly popular song sharing peer-to-peer network before iTunes and Spotify.
Napster's peer-to-peer or P2P software allowed millions of Internet users to share music files in a globally distributed file sharing system. Every Napster user could find the latest music from other PCs, which had installed Napster's software.
Blockchain has within a couple of years became a revolutionary new solution to P2P computing. Some people may recognize blockchain as a technology from Bitcoin, which is the first major virtual currency. Bitcoin may be a challenge for the banking industry, but blockchain will probably change the world within next ten years more than the cloud, robotics or many other rapidly evolving technologies.
Blockchain-based computing brings us a new computing world without a middleman. Companies can build with blockchain technology vast distributed computing systems open to anyone. Trust is built-in on blockchain network. It records each transaction anonymously on distributed ledger or database. The blockchain records change in each payment, music file, medical record or other file and keeps them in chronological order forever. Neither can users alter them in secret because each transaction block must refer to preceding block to be valid.
This approach may shake the whole big data and cloud computing industry shortly. The age of massive data centers may be over faster than we can imagine. Companies, as well as individual consumers, can soon keep their data in distributed cloud network based on highly secure blockchain technology. The cloud computing has brought us already lower computing costs, but P2P-networks consisting of hundreds of thousands of PCs and servers across the globe bring open cloud computing with very affordable pricing to everyone.
First blockchain clouds for data storage
Distributed cloud storage is coming near you sooner than you expect. An American Storj Labs from Atlanta, Georgia has launched its service as an open beta this month in Berlin.
Software developers can push and pull data free during the beta testing.
Storj data blocks are encrypted and distributed globally using blockchain algorithm. It is a platform and a suite of decentralized applications. According to the company Storj makes it possible to build cheaper and more reliable cloud storage system than what "traditional" cloud services offer.
Storj offers not just distributed data storage to everybody but allows users to create decentralized applications. Companies have used Storj API and made demos of an image viewer, a .txt and .pdf viewer, a music player and a video service to handle documents in this new blockchain cloud. Storj uses its cryptocurrency "Storjcoin X (SJCX)" to manage cloud storage space and bandwidth across the Storj network.
This distributed cloud industry is still in its early phases, but Storj has already competition. Nebulous Inc. from Boston operates Sia cloud service and allows anyone earn money by renting out his or her hard drive - like Storj. The company sees the market as "a multi-billion endeavor" and its goal to be the backbone storage layer of the Internet.
Blockchain-based storage may not work well in all documentation processes because the blockchain is immutable. If you save the document in the cloud, it will delete the old one and create a new one. The logic is different than in Google Drive or Microsoft Azure where you can quickly return to old versions and continue editing the document from a previous time point.
Blockchain is a new paradigm in computing. Bitcoins and distributed data storage are just first concrete examples of this exciting technology which I aim to follow keenly in this blog.