Latency, compute costs and storage
Andy Vitus, a partner at Scale Venture Partners, has written a TechCrunch article that explores the future of blockchain and distributed apps. As Vitus observes, the industry still has a “long way to go” before the technology is ready for major, real world applications.
“To get there, creative and enterprising developers must overcome three major limitations that exist at the very core of blockchain,” he explains.
“[These are] brutal latency, high compute costs and limited storage.”
In terms of high compute costs, Vitus notes that the industry has (ironically) been forced to relearn how to efficiently write single-threaded code.
“[However], efficient code will only get us so far. For blockchain to gain widespread adoption, processing power will need to get much cheaper,” he elaborates. “Adding more computers does not solve the problem; quite the opposite. The more computers on the network, the more nodes required to sync with the latest transaction history.”
With regards to latency, Vitus points out that all network nodes are involved with verifying and recording transactions posted to the blockchain.
“It’s a slow and redundant process that demands a great deal of processing power. It also runs counter to everything we have come to expect from software systems and the general internet,” he says.
“While the entire infrastructure of the internet is bending toward real time, blockchain is inherently slow.”
Until the above-mentioned challenges are overcome, says Vitus, hundreds of billions in investment dollars flowing into cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and others will remain little more than speculative bets.
“What’s more, if blockchain technology doesn’t soon catch up with investor exuberance, a major market correction is all too likely,” he adds.
Blockchain: Just getting started?
In related news, Mobius co-founder and CEO David Gobaud tells Pymnts that blockchain is just getting started, with cryptocurrencies representing only the “most basic” application of the technology.
“It’s like the early days of the internet,” states Gobaud. “The technology is still developing. Right now, people using bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies can’t all shop at the same place. The reason cryptos haven’t been adopted for consumer use yet is because it’s so early and they’re still hard to use.”
The challenge, says Gobaud, is two-sided. Put simply, it is too difficult for developers to integrate cryptos – and too difficult for consumers to use them in settings where they want to be spending money.
Blockchain: From genome sequencing to Salesforce
Although still rapidly evolving, blockchain is being eyed across multiple (and diverse) market verticals, including genome sequencing (biotech) and Salesforce. Indeed, earlier this month, Nebula Genomics published a white paper that details a blockchain-enabled genomic data sharing and analysis platform.
According to the white paper, Nebula Genomics seeks to spur genomic data growth by significantly reducing the costs of personal genome sequencing and enhancing genomic data protection, thereby allowing buyers to efficiently acquire genomic data and address the challenges of genomic big data. This can be accomplished, says the white paper, via decentralization, cryptography and utilization of the blockchain. To be sure, the Nebula network is built on the Blockstack (blockstack.org) platform and the Ethereum-derived Nebula blockchain, with the Nebula network consisting of data owner nodes, data buyer nodes, secure compute nodes and Nebula servers.
Meanwhile, Vikal Kapoor, CEO of Dapps Inc., tells TechTarget that from his perspective, blockchain is “the ultimate connectivity layer.” When pairing the technology with Salesforce, says Kapoor, companies can have a constant conversation with all the partners involved in the value chain of customer experience: before, during and after a sale.
“[The] sales cycles will no longer treat customer and company as counterparties, but like joint-venture partners in constant conversation,” he states. “That means less data and more intelligence. The pursuit is no longer for more data to throw into data swamps; the goal is to craft a journey where all parties are invited to travel as equal entities.”
According to Kapoor, blockchain distributed ledgers enable a consensus about information and data.
“When you can act on agreed-to information, then it becomes intelligence – and that is true analytics – live analytics. The customer journey is a live event, [so] everyone involved is invited to the show,” he adds.
Interested in learning more about blockchain? You can check out our article archive on the subject here.