We’re still learning what blockchain tech is capable of. It’s said to be in the same place as the internet was twenty years ago. What that means is we’ve only seen a fraction of what this tech is actually capable of. As it becomes more widely applied, we’ll see it advancing more and more. One area that will be particularly interesting to watch is the data center industry.
Let’s look at how technology can transform data centers.
Blockchain tech’s big selling point is that it’s very secure. This is because the data is spread across all the computers within the network. Every computer that signs on effectively uploads a copy of the chain. Updates to transactional data are updated on all computers in the network. So instead of the data being stored in a server farm at a single location, it is spread out over several computers.
Why would this be more secure? Think of it this way: Let’s say that you have a bag of gold coins. You want to keep them safe, so you have two options. You can store them in a safe in a locked room. The problem with this approach is that everyone knows where your coins are hidden. If a thief breaks in and gets past the security measures, all your coins are gone.
Another alternative is to store them in a few different locations. Maybe you bury some in the garden, keep some in the safe, and hide some in a curtain rail. You get the idea. At first glance, it doesn’t sound very secure, does it?
Think about it, though—if thieves break-in, they’ll need to get the coins out of each hiding place. It takes a lot longer, and the risk of being caught increases. They might, therefore, feel like it’s not worth the effort.
The chain makes the data more secure because it’s spread over a much wider network. Even if one or two computers are hacked, the data is backed up on the other computers. You can’t destroy it in one attack.
You also have safeguards in that each block of data is locked in place because it’s linked to the one that went before. Try to remove one block, and the chain will collapse.
Finally, to add new data, you have to have the consensus of most of the computers in the network.
The distributed nature of the data means that fundamental changes in the infrastructure of data centers are possible. Currently, most centers store data on server farms. Running these farms is expensive. You need to ensure that they’re secure, that they have sufficient power, and that there are contingencies in place in case the power goes out.
With blockchain technology, the power supply is not as much of an issue. Because the data is stored across so many different computers, it doesn’t make much difference if a few of those computers are down. The system can still run.
The other benefit of using a network rather than a server farm is that the infrastructural costs are a lot lower. The cost of the electricity to run the system is spread over all the computers within the network.
Also, the blockchain allows companies to rent out spare capacity from computers within the network. This essentially means that there are few expenses when it comes to buying equipment. Everyone in the network already has their own computer.
For now, the tech is still not well understood. There are companies, like Verne Global, that have already started implementing blockchain tech in this area, but not a lot. In the future, we can expect to see that change.
As it stands now, the technology can allow data centers to become more cost-effective to run and more secure. The verification process currently required to add data to the chain is a stumbling block. It requires a lot of power to process and is expensive for the miners processing it to run.
In the next couple of years, though, it’s expected that this problem will be solved for good. Then blockchain tech will offer a cheap and secure way for data centers to store their data.