The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) places the revitalization of peer-to-peer computing and adoption of blockchain in a broader sense in their Top 10 Technology Trends.

It seems that the blockchain revolution has happened and with the rise of crypto-currencies its future seems highly viable, especially as it expands into other applications. Blockchain is often see as a derivation of peer-to-peer technology – which had a bumpy beginning with the Napster, Mule phenom. However, things have changed in peer-to-peer.

But peer-to-peer – especially hybrid versions of the original application have been taking off. Many consider blockchain to be a hybrid application of peer-to-peer. It certainly has moved the concept in a very different direction – and a very successful long-term trend is emerging on the financial sector around blockchain.

But it doesn’t stop there. Many of the so-called “sharing” applications that have been successfully launched. And many commentators are beginning to realize that the cloud as we know it has to change. Why you may ask?  Basically, the following reasons as why the cloud has to change.

  • It’s expensive and corporations don’t need any more storage – they just need to share information more securely
  • Based on the quantum data loads that are emerging, it can’t meet long-term scaling requirements. 
  • The cloud, enterprise file sync-and-share (EFSS) or private is centralized and vulnerable and requires file transfer/duplication to work which increases the threat surface.
  • It demands trust but offers no guarantees. 
  • It makes us — and our data — sitting ducks.
  • The cloud, private or EFSS also limit productivity, slowing file sharing and collaboration.

So, if the cloud’s days are numbered – what next? Edge computing is a concept where we move computation that's currently centralized inside the cloud back to the edge in a distributed manner. Doing this provides key benefits that make it superior to traditional cloud architectures.

The notion of edge computing is nothing new. In fact, prior to cloud computing, we relied on our PC to provide the lion's share of our computational needs as we ran applications locally. But the cloud has changed all that. Peer-to-peer computing was an early application of edge computing, which might have been implemented a bit before is time. But now with the emergence of encrypted, hybrid peer-to-peer technologies like blockchain, the cloud’s dominance may be reaching the height of the bell curve.

According to Forrester Research, “In 2015, 47% of data and analytics decision-makers stated that their enterprises held between 1 TB and 99 TB of unstructured data within their company networks. A further 21% held 100 TB to 999 TB, with 14% holding over 1,000 TB in-house.” In organizations where active, useful content is stored on-premises, there may be little appetite to move, migrate or duplicate content to take advantage of EFSS. Because most of an organization's data resides predominately on premises and only a small portion of an organization's data can be stored in the cloud. Critical content that needs to be remotely accessed or shared often sits in-house and is inaccessible.

The Edge Trend

It looks like there is a growing need for a “edge computing solution – if not to fully replace the cloud – to augment it and provide highly secure remote access and sharing without expiration and unproductive cloud infrastructure. As an example of the new multi-cloud computing paradigm FileFlex from Qnext Corp is completely unlike EFSS or private cloud solutions because it does not require more storage or data duplication. Install FileFlex software on any device, server, desktop, laptop, tablet or phone and your set to remote access and share your files with anyone from anywhere – with all your files staying in their source locations. With FileFlex you don’t need to build a private cloud or copy content to a public cloud. FileFlex is an easy and secure way to remotely access, collaborate, share and stream without having to move it anywhere.

Philip Bliss