With the crypto-market deflating, it is a good time to connect with the original principal of blockchain: Privacy (via a node). Become an active participant in decentralization via your own node, easily deployed on Blockdaemon.
Building tech architecture to run multiple node deployments for multiple protocols (Fabric, Quorum, Ethereum, Stellar, Bitcoin, Gcoin etc.) and infrastructures (heck, all of them), is an eye-opening learning experience in the long list of “how bad all this blockchain tech currently is”. Compared to the cloud ecosystem, developers have few to no tools, but an array of choice between ideologically defended open-source protocols with rudiments of functional consensus protocols and unique configuration needs.
It is obvious that technical debt will have a new meaning for blockchain for business because engaging with projects and protocols when you don’t know which one will be around in a few years is insanely complex and inefficient. One of our new partner ecosystems — Aion — has some interesting interoperability solutions, in case you are curious about this particular issue (connect to their network via Blockdaemon soon).
Since we started the “Heroku for Blockchain” journey a year ago, most major participants have woken up to the potential of 2nd layer solutions and configuration tooling that works across multiple protocols and clouds. Heck, even Heroku wants to be the Heroku for blockchain.
Make sense, the traditional distributed cloud technology players — Engine Yard, Heroku, rackspace, DigitalOcean and Mirantis etc. — offer plenty of solutions that can be ported onto the blockchain ecosystem. We have made it our mantra to use what is there smartly, rather than developing something completely new from scratch. We need to deploy capital efficiently in order to survive the proliferation of solutions, on top of a costly infrastructure providers wanting to make “$s” selling mispriced data-plans for nodes experiencing enormous data-fluctuation. Down the line, data-arbitrage and tokenization to handle cross-networks will break up these data-cartels, but until then we have a fight to fight.
It requires a new concept, away from the traditional economic value added model (i.e. shareholder value), because capital cost will become lower over time and tokenized in all digital networks. Consensus and user participation will yield much more economic value — i.e. rewarding participants for their degree of participation and unbacked trust they bring to the system.
Questions about Decentralization
For Blockdaemon, that translates into lowering the currently very substantial cost of networks and to bring the best of breed of cloud computation orchestrators, large-file p2p distribution and continuous deployment processes to blockchain. Top functionality for enterprises. But it only matters if it can be built on top of blockchain, not just distributed ledger technology. What does that mean? What does decentralization mean? A question we have spent and are spending a lot of time on.
A popular solution set is to build non-blockchains under the blockchain flag (I am looking at you, Ripple or even EOS (which has potential)). That is fine for many blockchain business use cases, and the degree of decentralization needed may differ for permissioned chains. That said, larger public networks are nearly inoperable and far away from being business-ready. Ethereum is the latest chain getting a ton of stick around size, sync and throughput (Bitcoin has its own challenges, so sadly no time to gloat for this Bitcoin Maximalist (Index working sets are becoming too large)).
There are decent answers out there for that problem also — it isn’t so much an intellectual challenge (dozens of 2-Layer solutions, from sharding to lightning to infura etc.), it is an implementation challenge. Off-chain blends with Rest-APIs set on parallel infrastructures to blockchains, that periodically get anchored into blockchains. It gets talked about well in this CoinDesk article. We will offer our own version of this to our business partners.
What are blockchains really about?
While all this infrastructure/layer 2 talk is vital, it is important to not forget what the real use-case for blockchain is, so enterprises don’t get solely focussed on efficiencies. There are use-cases out there beyond chasing a tomato from a to b — the original Cypherpunk Manifesto, the problem set that blockchain was developed to solve was privacy (great piece by CoinDesk here):
“Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age. Privacy is not secrecy. A private matter is something one doesn’t want the whole world to know, but a secret matter is something one doesn’t want anybody to know. Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world.”
It starts here — Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world. This lies at the source of what blockchain can do — they can unshackle the capital constraints interwoven with our digital identities (currently we need to give up some of ourselves in order to feed the engine), by pushing rewards back on the actual consumer. It is a principal shift in how value is generated and it changes capital models substantially. When thinking about blockchain for business, the question is how do we enhance business processes with gradient increases of anonymized data sets that are for free, yet very valuable. It pushes innovation outward (away from the middlemen) to the “real-mensch” who is supposed to be the user of a service.
While the true degree of disruption is yet to be revealed, we call can agree on one simple fact: It all comes back to Nodes. The only perfect way to protect your data and to participate is by running your own node. It empowers you. It gives you a voice in the consensus mechanism (well, not always, but sometimes). It secures you a copy of all transactions. As an individual who is passionate about bitcoin (check out this amazing talk by Saifedean Ammous in case you need a reminder about how powerful this all is), I urge everyone who can to run a Bitcoin node. It makes you a first generation Cypher-Citizen.
That is why we built out our simple public node deployment tool for Bitcoin and Ethereum across any (well, most) infrastructure — we have been up and running with it for a few months, and learned a ton. Initially we throttled the intake. Now I am happy to announce that we are unleashing the Kraken — Nodes, Nodes, NODES!
We also make the first few months for free — other folks run their simple templates for free to upsell you, we throw up a real node (and that can cost money). Go get them as long as the cloud credits last.
Finally, in case you missed this, we joined Hyperledger to help folks with their fabric deployments. If you are running a consortia or a network using fabric and need help easily connecting other partners/nodes, ping us (the Drift window on our website is a good way to get in touch). Get deploying!