Is Blockchain Coming to the Cloud?

By January 26, 2019Security
Man holding a sticky note that has block chain written on it

Blockchain is relatively new, at least to consumers. Proponents claim blockchain is here to stay and likely to impact every sector and industry. But will it impact cloud computing, and how? Google and Amazon are already implementing blockchain into their suite of cloud services and capabilities. To understand the relationship between the cloud and blockchain, it will first help to get a handle on what blockchain is.

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a database that is shared across a vast number of computers. “But wait,” you say, “isn’t that what the cloud is?” Yes, the cloud is space on another computer “out there.” Instead of storing data and running programs on the computer under your fingertips, those processes occur somewhere else. So in a way, blockchain takes cloud computing to the next level.

Investopedia explains it this way: each time a new block of information is added to the chain of information, it receives a unique code that identifies the action taken, what user performed the action, and when. Furthermore, it adds each block onto the chain in sequential order. Its location is thereafter unchangeable. During the creation of the block, which is usually a financial transaction, the massive network of computers verifies the transaction as genuine. Because so many computers validate these transactions, the information chain (blockchain) is impossible to hack using a single computer. All the other computers in the network will reject those rogue, attempted alterations from hackers.

Similarities and Differences of Cloud Computing and Blockchain

Remote computing is the greatest shared similarity between these two new-to-the-public technologies. Blockchain is a kind of secondary cloud platform. The cloud allows for faster and more voluminous centralized storage and computing. Blockchain, however, offers a very different set of advantages. Security stands as blockchain’s greatest asset.

The difference between cloud computing and blockchain is that cloud computing collects data from many devices onto centralized locations. Blockchain does the opposite. It uses a large number of individually owned computers to create a single database. CoinTelegraph.com summed it up by saying cloud computing decentralizes the workforce while blockchain decentralizes computing itself.

Relative to the cloud, blockchain is very slow and can process at only a fraction of the speed. That means while blockchain works well for the current state of digital currency usage and trading, it cannot keep up with worldwide traditional currency transactions.

Blockchain and the Cloud

With operating methodologies so different, what is this talk we hear of blockchain coming to the cloud? Investigators of subjects like Google introducing Blockchain on their Cloud structure should read far south of the headline. You see, blockchain is also a cloud structure! Therefore, blockchain isn’t on the cloud, it is a cloud. What is cloud computing after all, other than computations performed for you on someone else’s computer? Blockchains added to Google, Alibaba, and other platforms are using a blockchain framework in addition to any cloud computing services they have offered up to this point.

Each system has its advantages. When used to enhance security, the changes that blockchain might bring about have the potential to revolutionize such sectors as real estate, banking, and electronic voting. Many of us have already adopted the cloud. We use its features to bring workforces together and centralize databases formerly located on individual hard drives. Both offer tantalizing advantages to the business world which deserve a closer look.

Photo by Hitesh Choudhary on Unsplash