Blockchain may be the biggest trend in IT since cloud computing, and a French startup called iExec is creating a way to bring the two closer together by using the distributed ledger technology to create a market for renting out processing power as an alternative to Amazon, Google or or Microsoft.
In November, iExec released the first version of a software developer kit to increase the computing power of decentralized applications (called Dapps), which run on Ethereum’s blockchain. Next, the firm plans to release its own cryptocurrency, called RLC (for “run lots of computers”) that can be used int two ways. Those with existing IT infrastructure such as servers can accept a fee using RLCs to farm out compute resources, while those creating Dapps would use RLCs to pay for the service. iExec says buyers and sellers will set their own prices and will not receive any commissions.
iExec has also launched an app store for decentralized AI, IoT and big data applications and will have a new SDK ready this Spring. The startup involves researchers at various French and Chinese academic institutions including the INRIA, CNRS and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It is also launching through an accelerator run by Tsinghua University in Beijing.
Speaking from Paris, Jean-Charles Cabelguen, iExec’s chief innovation officer, told B2B News Network that because blockchain essentially takes a sort of “snapshot” before and after a transaction, it is ideal for automating the provision of cloud computing resources through a token like RLC. The currency, meanwhile, is not simply something to be exchanged but to possibly to offer better quality of service.
“When you buy some bread, the token could just be used not only to pay the one cooking it, but also to incentivize them to cook good bread,” he said by way of analogy. “Tokens can use to base transactions to buy some computing power, but also to ensure the transaction will be well-executed.”
Decentralized apps will also mitigate the risks of big players like Facebook owning considerable amounts of data on customers, according to Cabelguen.
iExec is aware, of course, that Amazon’s AWS unit, Google and Microsoft already own a substantial portion of the existing public cloud market. The rise of blockchain, however, means more cloud customers will resist the idea of a centralized service provider, Cabelguen argued. That’s why iExec’s market will allow cloud services to be offered via a company or an individual. Even an AWS reseller could use iExec as a channel, he added.
The idea to make offering cloud computing something that could be offered in a sharing economy model, using idle IT resources the way consumers might rent out their cars via UberX or their homes on AirBNB.
“(Blockchain) is a new way of organizing societies,” he said. “We may have evolved in an era of centralized computing, but today we can mix and match services across an entire network.”
iExec will also be offering a prize pool of $150,000 to Dapp developers working on Ethereum based on the most promising ideas.