Cloud computing has revolutionized the way we use applications and store data, but the majority of SaaS products in use today sit on a small number of centralized servers.
So what if we decentralized the cloud or, even better, used a distributed computing structure that rewards both lenders and users of computing power?
Autonomous decentralized system and blockchain-based marketplace SONM is doing exactly that by offering an alternative to the cloud through a fog computing structure.
In short, SONM allows users to connect their personal devices to one virtual space, creating a decentralized platform where consumers and suppliers can rent and purchase computing power from one another.
SONM successfully raised $42 million at the end of 2017, and the startup released its MVP Testnet in December of that year. Using that platform, developers have been able to test SONM’s fog computing services and send critical feedback and improvement recommendations, all ahead of the product’s first commercial release this summer.
“More than 500 participants of the SONM community have been involved in beta-testing of the platform and are giving us valuable feedback,” SONM cofounder Aleksei Antonov told me.
The marketplace consists of suppliers and consumers that either rent out or purchase computing power to perform their tasks. Consumers who connect to the virtual space can either select a rental time or buy available power for their projects, and then calculate the cost accordingly.
When the power resource is theirs, consumers can then take advantage of SONM’s capabilities to render videos, host apps and websites, make scientific calculations, manage data storage, or work with machine learning.
Suppliers — the computing power owners — earn SNM tokens when they sell computer resources to consumers.
SONM is completely decentralized, which means the platform is transparent and free from ownership, and the company claims it is less expensive than centralized competitors.
“Blockchain enables the creation of a genuinely open decentralized system without a single control center,” Antonov said. “Additionally, using blockchain to manage settlements on-platform with the help of the SNM cryptocurrency allows the interests of participants to be protected.”
The transparency blockchain technology offers is of particular importance to SONM.
“Blockchain allows us to offer trusted settlements between marketplace participants, to securely determine the right of access to resources, and to build a competitive model that determines who will be allotted these resources,” Antonov said. “With smart contracts, which allow automated transactions between participants who do not necessarily trust or know each other, customers can create secure deals. Smart contracts play the role of an arbitrator, automatically regulating the interaction between consumers and suppliers of computing resources on SONM.”
The beta test has shown some interesting early results.
“Thanks to our platform, suppliers and consumers of computing resources have conducted around 400 deals in the course of testing the platform,” Antonov said. “During testing of SONM, the platform’s participants made around 12,000 buy and sell requests for computing resources via the marketplace.”
So what’s next for SONM?
“On June 30, we released the first version of SONM IaaS,” Antonov said. “The next release will differ by its enhanced IaaS functionality. New functions will be added for consumers of the service. Down the line, we are also planning integration with software for automated deployment, scaling, and management of Kubernetes containerized applications.”