The Executors of the Distributed Ledger
In our last Article, The Distributed Ledger Part 1: Data Fidelity, we discussed how the architecture of the Distributed Ledger ensures the integrity of Distributive Data. In part 2, we will explore the mechanism, Smart Contracts, that automate transactions within Distributed File Systems.
Following in the success of Bitcoin, a plethora of technologies have been developed to build on the capabilities and usefulness of the underlying cryptographic technologies, including platforms like Ethereum, Hyperledger, and EOS. Since blockchain offers a superior method to store, secure, and transfer data of all kinds, there is increasing demand to re-imagine fundamental digital infrastructure.
A natural extension of blockchain technology comes in the form of smart contracts that simplify and automate transactions and agreements of all kinds between participants. These transactions can be purely financial (in the case of cryptocurrencies) or can involve other assets such as data. These ‘contracts’ don’t need to be fulfilled in the traditional sense. Rather, they exist as autonomous agents that live within the blockchain and execute a specific task whenever called. In the case of data storage, the participant sending the data and the participants receiving & storing the data are the parties in the smart contract. The agreement is simply that the receivers will hold onto an encrypted chunk of stuff that the sender can request at any time.
The ability to store data over a distributed network provides astounding resilience and data availability– having no single point of failure, multiple copies, and hash fingerprints also leads to superior data fidelity and integrity, while the underlying encryption technologies ensure confidentiality of data stored on the chain. This has led to the proliferation of blockchain-based distributed file systems (DFS) — basically abstract hard drives that exist across thousands of computers across the globe. In addition to the many thousands of servers already participating, large digital infrastructure providers such as Cloudflare have begun hosting clusters of such nodes to join in on the future of distributed computing, further adding resilience to the network.
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