Until recently, Amazon, Google and a few other centralized services have cornered the market in cloud computing. Cloud providers offer “pay-as-you-go” services where you pay for the computing power that you need, drawing from a network of available hardware. Amazon.com popularized the term cloud computing when it released its Elastic Compute Cloud in 2006 and it is expected to grow to a $162 billion industry according to Forbes. With the advent of the blockchain, where millions of users plug their hardware into a global network; often hardware that includes powerful GPUs and other computing power, it’s only logical to tie the blockchain and cloud computing together.
SONM (Supercomputer Organized by Network Mining) is a supercomputer network whose intention is to provide a blockchain alternative to the cloud services offered by companies like Amazon. Unlike the centralized cloud services where all servers and hardware are owned by a central company, SONM uses a fog structure where many decentralized computing units – computers controlled by owners of the SONM coin – are combined to form a cloud service.
SONM has already released its minimum viable product, where users don’t have to prepay as with conventional cloud services. To join the cloud network, you need to own SONM coins, trading under SNM with a market cap of $108 million. It’s an ERC-20 token, built on the Ethereum blockchain and utilizing Ethereum’s smart contract technology to distribute cloud computing services.
Through cloud computing, entities are able to share resources to achieve consistency and economies of scale like a public utility. Enterprises have their applications up and running faster with better manageability and little or no maintenance, compared to the resources required for hardware that you might outgrow in a short period of time. IT teams are able to adjust their resources on a needs basis, often automatically, in a fluctuating and unpredictable environment.
SONM enables any internet user to take part in the network by offering their computing power as Amazon.com has been doing, in exchange for SONM Coins as a reward. The model isn’t without its concerns. For example, when you use a service like Amazon, part of what you pay for is the integrity of their equipment and a tech team ready to troubleshoot any issues that may arise. With a service like SONM, we expect that there will need to be a degree of redundancy and other safety measures, to ensure stable service should an individual’s computer go offline midway through your computations. Still, this would be a solvable problem, for which SONM may already have a system in place. Other blockchain contenders in cloud computing include Golem and iEXEC, each offering their specific advantages and disadvantages.
IEXEC launched a successful ICO. Their platform seeks to aggregate underutilized computer resources for a decentralized internet where users may host each other’s content on the cloud, serving as data providers, server providers and application providers.
Golem is a project whose aim is to become a decentralized supercomputer, using the underutilized computing power of Internet-connected devices. Their goal is to create a decentralized sharing platform for computing power where the highest bidder can rent computing resources.
SONM is the latest cloud computing project to watch. If successful, it will create a global marketplace where people can buy or sell computing resources to one another. Hardware owners will get more value out of their equipment, while purchasers of resources may see more competitive pricing.
The project team has said SONM will offer features their competitors don’t have including site hosting, non-deterministic tasks, a round-robin-based balancer and game server support. SONM intends to offer affordable decentralized and transparent computing to transform the cloud-based computing market.
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