Bitcoin [BTC], the very first digital currency often referred to as the king of the cryptoverse, has been recognized as a revolution ever since its inception. Interestingly, along with the idea of a digitalized and decentralized economy, the coin’s underlying technology, Blockchain Technology has gained a lot of traction across the globe.
Several industries including leading government are looking into the use-case of the blockchain technology and working towards implementing it all the sectors. More so, one of the key industries the blockchain is going to disrupt noted to be the cloud storage industry.
The introduction of blockchain to cloud storage industry is going to be marked as a significant revolution as it is the reckoned to be the pioneering sector in this internet generation. From individuals to companies and governments, everyone avails the services offered by this industry. Moreover, companies such as Amazon and Microsoft are currently thriving in the world because of their cloud computing services.
In general terms, Cloud computing services refer to providing computer system resources over the Internet on-demand. This service is the most-sought-after one because it reduces the operating cost, increases efficiency, and paves the path for faster innovation.
This service is mainly categorized into three types: enterprise cloud service, dedicated to a single entity, public cloud service, available for several enterprises, and hybrid cloud service, a mixture of both public and enterprise. And, the three main services provided are Platform as a Services [PaaS], Serverless Computing, Software as a Service [SaaS], and Infrastructure as a Service [IaaS].
The most common resources offered over the internet by cloud computing services are servers, computation power, storage, database, software, networking, intelligence, and analytics. Despite its vast advantages, the industry also has several drawbacks, limiting it from reaching its full potential.
One of the main drawbacks of this sector is that it is filled with centralized players. This factor comes across as concern because of the control these entities have over individuals data. This is also a raising question, especially with the recent revelation of Facebook’s abuse of personal data has cast a doubt pertaining to one’s ownership of their data, and more importantly privacy protection.
In addition, these centralized entities have the power to monitor the data stored and even disclose to third parties. The other pressing issue of centralized cloud computing services is that they create the perfect honeypot for hackers and malicious players as most of the data is connected to one single point.
These are exactly the key factor that will be tackled with the help of blockchain technology. Along with driving its efficiency to a whole new level, blockchain also adds a huge value in terms of privacy, security, and scalability. And, one such project working towards bringing the best of both the worlds is Ankr.
Ankr is blockchain based distributed cloud computing network, providing serverless infrastructure for the business application. The project is dedicated to leveraging idle computing resources in data centers and other devices. The main goal of the project is to “provide a smooth on-hand experience for cloud users and minimize the switching cost to integrate Ankr’s DCCN into their solutions.”
Unlike any other project in the space, the main aspect of Ankr makes energy consumed for wasteful computation into a profitable. Ankr paves the path for cheaper and more accessible computing power to users as it adopts a Sharing Economy model. With this model, users can monetize their devices computing power on a public and private cloud at a given time.
Ankr is container-native, supports container orchestration and confederation cross clusters and cross data centers to automate application deployment, scaling, and management in any personal device or commercial resource provider. The DCCN platform uses multiple-master-multiple-slave architecture.
The masters include the marketplaces and schedulers, and the slaves include all kinds of resource providers, usually data centers and personal devices. Core product components include service discovery, load balancing and routing, API gateway, autoscaling and self-healing, scheduler and job management, marketplace, configuration management, metering and telemetry, logging and metrics. Moreover, Ankr provides all the computational services that match to those offered by centralized technology companies such as Amazon and Google for a much cheaper price, adding along the benefits of blockchain technology to it.
Blockchain is heavily leveraged in the product too. All the usage data and transaction data will be recorded in the block, which means it will be easy to verify and back tracking and prevent from manipulation. Data predictive analytics based on blockchain data helps create Ankr user account reputation system.
Code-is-low will replace the traditional Service-level Agreement [SLA]. Blockchain-based contract functionality will be used by Ankr cloud Marketplace platform, which matches the buyers and sellers using advanced matchmaking algorithms for trading computing resources and applications. Ankr’s native blockchain is also an alternative method for data centers to communicate with messages. Ankr cloud platform is trying to reduce unnecessary data center communications.
Ankr cloud provides five levels security for cloud platform,
OS virtual isolation
Service communication security. Ankr cloud uses certificate-based service-to-service policy for segmentation and encryption.
Configuration security. Ankr cloud uses cryptographic identity for dynamic configuration update and limit resource for each identity.
Container application security. Users need to put deposits or stake for its own applications. The damages will be restricted to the resource’s users have already paid for.
AMBCrypto reached out to the project heads to gain more perspective on the project:
Team member names in picture team: [left to right] 1. Chandler Song, CEO 2. David P. Anderson, Creator of BOINC, Advisor to Ankr 3. Stanley Wu, CTO
When did you come across the blockchain and cryptocurrency space? What was your first impression when you first heard of it?
Chandler Song, fellow Ankr Co-founder, and our CEO, actually sparked my interest in the blockchain. Chandler was one of the early members of Blockchain at Berkeley, a student organization focused on blockchain innovation with the first undergraduate university-accredited blockchain course, Blockchain Fundamentals. This was the first step in Chandler’s interest in the blockchain, and in turn, my own journey.
We first experimented with crypto during our time at college, back in 2014, when Bitcoin was still hovering in the hundreds. From then on, having come from a more traditional financial background, I realized that banking systems are primarily determined by human decision-making, and the introduction of blockchain would be able to bring about a new way of trust due to its nature as a decentralized entity. At the core of it, while blockchain remains in its early days, the immutability and trust in the code will cement it as the future of trust.
What drove you to create Ankr Network? Could you tell us the reason you choose to provide cloud computing solutions instead of opting for other services?
It’s an interesting story, actually. Amazon is the common thread between us three founders.
Ankr CTO and Co-founder, Stanley Wu was one of the early engineers for Amazon Web Services and a Tech Lead at Amazon for over 10 years while Ankr CEO and Co-founder, Chandler Song worked with Stanley at Amazon.
While I was heavily exposed to AWS from a user-perspective – As a finance and statistics student I dealt a lot with machine learning, using AWS amounted to a few thousand dollars. While this was a considerable sum for a college student, I was convinced by my first-hand experience that this was a lucrative business that was worth looking into, with a higher margin that placed it ahead of its retail counterpart.
If you look at distributing or decentralizing something that already has a thin profit margin to start with, it becomes significantly harder to do so, as in the case of a cloud where there is a big pie to share. The aim of a distributed cloud system is to make it cheaper, and it is our firm belief that utilizing idle cloud resources will be the way forward.
Why did Ankr choose to introduce blockchain to cloud computing instead of launching itself as a centralized cloud computing firm?
We wouldn’t call ourselves at this moment of time decentralized network. What we will be trying to achieve, is distributed network first. It is running almost like a decentralized company, but the core focus we have right now is to enable the distributed network to mash together with the cloud.
Recently, we’ve partnered up with Telefonica, which is one of the largest European telecommunications company. They have lots of idle resources. What we’re able to do is to mash together their resources with public cloud resources to provide together a cloud for potential clients and our platform is about lunch in just one or two days. And we’re all very excited about having the initial contributor to the platform.
Blockchain, we think is an extremely important part of the distributed computing platform, because you know the promise of blockchains is that is truly in trust. I think this is the future for distributed computing, and the blockchain part is an extremely important part of our offering.
What are the key differences you think is between centralized and decentralized cloud computing, in terms of challenges?
There are a lot of difficulties for distributed computing company. We have already seen, you know, many companies in the space, we actually know many of the projects, for eg., Golem from Poland. A lot of companies are trying to do this, but the challenges that people face are essentially the following.
Firstly, if you’re only focused on personal computing, we’re not going to be able to have enough resources, and it’s not as stable as it is compared to the centralized cloud. The way we think about it is that we are a little more enterprise focused and compared to some of the other distributed computing company, so that we can potentially first, knock down the supply side problem so that we can have relative stability. That’s basically our first challenge.
The second biggest challenge is the type of the work a distributed compute platform can do versus a centralized platform.
We are currently working with a video compression company, and they’re going to be one of our first three clients. They have spent a lot of money on AWS, and we are working with them to develop a solution to cut their costs down a whole lot. We’ve currently focused more on computing other tasks that are definitely in the pipeline and in the future, we would look to work with other distributed computing or distributed storage companies.
I think the true challenge is the stability of the supply of the compute network. I think we are on the right track to tackle them one by one.
What, according to you, are the major obstacles in cloud computing solutions provided by centralized firms? How do you think Ankr network will eradicate these obstacles by introducing decentralization?
At this point in time, it’s important to note that Ankr is not yet fully introduced as decentralization, but instead distributed and utilizing otherwise idle resources. We see ourselves bringing value to a market with untapped potential, evident in the many data centers that have low utilization rates. The US, for instance, has on average 25-35% utilization, and it is often lower in some cases. As an aggregator of idle resources, we provide a cheaper, more accessible, and a much more efficient alternative.
While we certainly cannot achieve everything AWS purports to do, we are committed to excelling at our chosen niche and have our attention focused on computing resources. To that end, we are also currently working with pilot clients across different industries, with an emphasis on compute functions.
In the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, at present, there are several cloud computing services available such as Siacoin. What sets Ankr Network apart from them and could you tell us a little about the platform’s key features that would promote its adoption?
Yes, there are several cloud computing services within the industry, however, each has a slightly different focus and offering. Siacoin, as you mentioned, is centered around decentralized storage, while Ankr focuses on decentralized compute. While there are other decentralized compute companies in the industry such as Golem and iExec, their architecture – and proposition – is slightly different.
Ankr is first and foremost focused on enterprise adoption, recognizing the state of idle resources within companies as it relates to inefficient inventories. We had previously launched a testing platform back in October 2018 and found that the result of 600 people contributing their computing resources formed a highly unstable network, and this marked our transition to enterprise usage.
An appreciation for the amount of waste and under-leveraged systems in the corporate ecosystem has led Ankr to focus on streamlining and bringing efficiencies in line for companies, and this is the biggest difference that marks Ankr apart from our competitors.
Shifting beyond a myopic comparison, it is perhaps more important to look at the unique strengths of each model and their own architecture. The blockchain space has been throwing out elaborate terms and exciting promises of late, but at the end of the day, it will be those who can go to market, produce a viable product, and attract partners and users, that will prove their worth. An excellent example is WeChat – when users use the application, they care only about the utility, and not the underlying technology supporting it.
AMBCrypto also reached out Ariel Ling, the CEO, and Co-Founder of Bitmax.io about her opinion on the cloud computing project and the reason for their partnership.
First of, could you tell us about your experience in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space?
I’m a new member of the blockchain space. My team and I have a very traditional Wall Street background. I have actually got more than 18 years of experience in terms of Wall Street, crossing boundaries of our top tier investment banks, doing strategic planning, business development, financial risk management and implementation across major trading asset classes at several top global banks.
The main reason is a bit similar to what Ryan’s vision and the objective was for his venture encore. What we’re looking at is really looking at the current state of the crypto, in terms of the trading market structure as well as the regulatory developments. We do think there is a quite a bit of future developments, where we can definitely lend our expertise to in terms of improving the efficiency, the transparency, as well as a lot of the product innovation.
How do you like the shift from centralized space to a decentralized space?
When it comes down to the digital asset, it’s very nice. So the industry itself it’s at an early stage of development form, you know, full of opportunities as risks and promises. And from a blockchain technology. So, again, as I said, I’m very pleased to have a chance to work with Ryan’s Ankr, to look into his project, to help the success of this project because blockchain from a technology perspective right now is kind of like Internet in the 1990s.
So there’s a lot more development to be done and more innovation, and also there are a lot more business transformation yet to take place. And it’s very exciting. And that’s why we think, you know, that makes sense for us to work with such you know pioneer venture like Ankr; particularly at the moment we are really looking at how we can take the distributed clouding and blockchain technology to actually transforming or optimizing, some of the existing industry that is dominated by, you know, like AWS and some other the mature players in a cloud computing.
I do think this is very similar to what we are trying to do, in terms of leveraging our expertise in the algorithmic quant trading, and trying to enhance the market structure, or at least make some effort, right?
Could you brief us about your opinion on Ankr network?
One of the key things we’re very proud of is really the quality of top client services as well as our very innovative trading platform. When we’re looking at what our users, what our clients want, a lot of them is really about coming down to quality projects. So we’re not one of those exchanges which just randomly list a whole bunch of, tokens or projects. We actually have a pretty strict listing requirement in order to identify the very high-quality project for our users.
And so far, we’ve already listed five industry star project in the last several weeks and then a couple more, including Ankr and all of them, but when we are looking at it when we evaluate, it is based off where we came from – I come from traditional finance. So we’re not looking at all projects as a random investment opportunities. It is almost a combination of, basically a very traditional finance evaluation perspective, as well as how the market develops in that regard.
So there are a couple of parameters, that we are always looking at from project evaluation:
has a viable profitable business model;
a growing use user base;
strong community support
various solid reputable funding source.
So when we assessed Ankr and when I initiated discussions with Ryan back in December, almost three-four months back. What we’re looking at is the partnership – where it’s going, you know, how the project paves a huge way for the futures. So we want to know each other well and look at the product itself from a business model perspective. I’ve definitely thought and it is quite interesting the way that they are looking at the overall network computing space.
Their angle is fairly, established and comprehensive from a revenue model perspective. Right. And just in the common sense, how they’re taking the idol cloud computing power and optimizing it is actually very common sense driven, meaning how you drive the efficiency, how you optimize the network. This is something every single firm I’ve been with, at different six different investments, is struggling with.
I think from what they’re approaching, it’s a fairly viable business model, and it makes sense. And, then from a second point about growing your space and I’ve also been spending a lot of handling with Ryan, Chandler, and the team. I’ve known that just before this partnership, that he had very established players and, they’re working very closely with them on the prototype of their product development. So there’s definitely a growing appetite for their product.
And, then from a strong community support perspective, I think they have done a fantastic job managing meetup across the globe, especially in Asia, where there is a lot more activity for users. And, from the user training perspective, that they’ve done quite successfully in a meetup in Korea, in China and in different parts of the dynamic marketplaces. I’ve definitely noticed their community has been growing, and there is a telegram group, we chat group. It’s a pretty solid use community. We’re also looking at what their backers are and who actually provided their initial funding. And then, a lot of them are pretty top tier VCs in the crypto world. We actually share one exactly same, same VC, DHVC.
These are the four criteria with which, we have done our due diligence and spent a lot of time getting to know them to know their product, their community. So we’re pretty comfortable. This is a pretty high-quality project.
And I think from a vision perspective, that the partnership makes sense. They’re striving for transparency, efficiency, as well as transformational efforts to a very matured industry, as it is a very similar thought process with us.