It’s everywhere. The cloud is available from your smartphone, desktop, or iPad. We upload pictures to the cloud without thinking about it. Enterprises store volumes of data onto the cloud. However, in the scheme of things, millions of servers and hardware devices are required to run cloud services. Collectively, the cloud is part of a system known as Infrastructure as a Service.
Mina Down, writing for Hackernoon, explores Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) as one of three categories of cloud computing services. She explains that “Cloud computing lets organizations outsource their infrastructure needs to an external provider.” A provider of IaaS—houses and maintains the computer infrastructure so that clients can access it remotely. Clients usually pay on a per-use or utility computing basis for this service.
One way of looking at IaaS according to Sarah Rothrie, is that IaaS may be referred to as “hardware as a service’. Businesses and enterprises need servers, storage, and devices to run a network of computers—all hardware, much of which resides in a centralized location.
IaaS, says John Spacey in Simplecable, include applications such as computing, firewalls, load balancers, monitoring, data storage, databases, messaging and more. With the explosive need for data storage and security, blockchain surfaces as a way to disrupt the current systems of data storage and protection.
Blockchain Use Case for IaaS
Blockchain technology offers new ways of handling IaaS for industry. Down explains that blockchain technology offers innovative ways to handle IaaS, saying that it “it could disrupt how big tech companies operate today.” Blockchain works with many devices in a decentralized network. Thus, it is a “shared computer system infrastructure.”
Because blockchain works within a decentralized network of computers, not all devices, or nodes, are being used at the same time. Some computers and devices may be working on one task using computing power and storage from computers on the shared network. While other nodes remain idle.
According to Down—this “arrangement can be monetized.” Computers that use more power than what their own capacity can manage, can pay others in tokens to lease their unused resources.
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Blockchain Meets IaaS
While blockchain has not taken hold of IaaS in any significant way, as yet, the opportunity still exists. IaaS can be applied to a variety of infrastructure elements. Cloud computing, for example, may be able to leverage decentralized computing power in a similar way that a centralized data center may lease capacity within cloud computing models.
With blockchain, “memory and data storage could also be decentralized” says Rothrie. In a decentralized network, some of the computers may be working on one set of tasks—consuming computing power and storage resources from other nodes on the network. With this configuration many of the nodes may remain idle. Thus, an enterprise can monetize unused capacity to other machines on the network. And, machines that use power over their own capacity can pay in digital tokens to those leasing idle capacity.
Impact on Big Tech Firms
This configuration has opportunities for large tech firms and enterprises such as Amazon or Microsoft to benefit with this type of decentralized computing ecosystem, says Rothrie.
A large centralized IaaS provider will need to hold sufficient hardware to meet the changing needs of its clients. Consequently, it must hold in excess of capacity to meet the spikes in demand. As a result, computing power will sit idle.
As an example, Amazon Web Services is undoubtedly the market leader in computer services. In the past decade, the company has “transformed into a hypermarket of cloud services for startups, mid-market customers and large enterprises.” (Forbes) Amazon must maintain servers and hardware that exceed capacity in order to guarantee it can meet the needs of its customers.
Thus Amazon, or any prominent provider, can participate in a blockchain enabled decentralized infrastructure network and be in a position to lease any overcapacity. Moreover, they can leverage the network by paying for extra infrastructure when their client needs spike and suddenly demand more than their available capacity.
The opportunity to meet the needs of storage demand and computing power are enormous. Blockchain with is decentralized network and IaaS may be the solution to these needs. Two examples of blockchain projects operating in this space include Golem and DeepBrainChain. However, while not marketing themselves as a full IaaS provider, their projects contain elements of IaaS.
Additionally, Storj provides similar service for decentralized hard disk memory space, and MaidSAFE may be the only blockchain project with the goal to provide multiple elements of IaaS—since it “aims to cover both decentralized computing power and storage,” concludes Rothrie.