Marketing and sales teams might cringe at the thought of asking their IT department to help them with a blockchain project today, but a startup called Crowd Machine is promising an easy way to create decentralized applications without any technical skills.
Based in San Jose, Calif., Crowd Machine has set up a system whereby everyday people can agree to contribute some of their computer’s processor capacity to power its cloud-based network for testing and running blockchain applications. The Crowd Machine App Studio, meanwhile, is designed to offer drag-and-drop ease in creating blockchain applications. The company said its technology will be 45 times faster than traditional development approaches.
Those who help support the firm’s cloud network will get paid via its token, while those who contribute source code from their applications to a central library, dubbed CrowdShare, will get paid with tokens when their intellectual property is used by third-party applications to run on the network. While other startups, such as Quixxi, are also creating marketplaces and tools for decentralized app development, Crowd Machine is trying to open up such opportunities to everyday people.
“The intent was to create a technology that democratized the application process,” Crowd Machine founder and CEO Craig Sproule told B2B News Network. “The tools and languages have changed, but the process is still fairly similar: you write code, run debuggers, compile, deploy. Those tasks are consistent, but they have always required highly skilled resources to create robust applications.”
Though theoretically anyone in the company could use Crowd Machine, Sproule said CIOs could lock down certain areas where applications could be tested and then run in a more self-service manner without introducing the traditional risks of “shadow IT,” where employees try to bypass corporate computing policies.
“What you’re doing with this technology is empowering the people close to the domain problem,” he said. “In most places you have business line users and IT departments, and there’s a gulf or vacuum between the two. In our world you’re moving the development much closer to actual requirements (of the business).”
Instead of the big, monolithic applications that run things like payroll in companies today, Sproule said decentralized applications are offering a new approach that breaks various tasks down into what he called “behaviors.” In a medical system, for instance, admitting a patient might represent one behavior and the discharge of a patient might be another. Models of these behaviors then get dispersed across the network.
“Think about a jigsaw puzzle as being like an application,” he said.
Though Crowd Machine could be used to create many different kinds of applications, Sproule said supply chain environments and those using the Internet of Things may represent the greatest opportunity. That said, he noted that when Crowd Machine recently hosted a Webinar with about 350 registrants, only about five admitted they were actually doing anything with blockchain.
“What that means is that the enterprise sector is in the early end of blockchain generally,” he said.
Community members will be able to build and test applications for free on Crowd Machine’s network but will have to buy tokens to run them, Sproule said. They will retain ownership of their work, however, and will be able to track the use of their intellectual property as well as any derivative works.
Besides creating blockchain applications, organizations may want some guarantees behind them. Sproule said his firm is already planning to launch a Crowd Academy, which will offer a seven-step certification process. Crowd Machine is already in talks with various schools about adding the certification to their curriculum, he said.