Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is one of three main categories of cloud computing services (the other two are software as a service (SaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS)). Cloud computing lets organizations outsource their infrastructure needs to an external provider. The provider of IaaS houses and maintains computer infrastructure that clients can access remotely. Clients usually pay on a per-use or utility computing basis for this service.
Currently, a few big companies dominate the IaaS sector. Some of the most well-known companies providing IaaS include Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and IBM.
What Blockchain Adds to IaaS
Blockchain technology provides new ways of handling infrastructure as a service (IaaS). As with many industries, it could disrupt how big tech companies operate today.
A blockchain involves many machines working together in a decentralized network, thus, it is a shared computer system infrastructure. It is possible for a cloud computing service to take the idle capacity of CPU’s and GPU’s working in the network and make it available to clients on a per-use basis, similar to how a centralized datacenter leases out capacity in today’s cloud computing models.
A blockchain consists of a decentralized network of computers. At any given moment, some computers will be working on specific tasks, taking computing power and storage from others on the network. This arrangement can be monetized so those computers using more power than their own capacity can pay in digital tokens to others to lease their idle capacity.
This model can apply to different infrastructure components. It can leverage decentralized computing power itself. Memory and data storage could also be decentralized in a similar way.
Early Players in Blockchain IaaS
There are already some blockchain projects operating in this space. Although none of them are currently marketing themselves as a full infrastructure as a service provider, both Golem and DeepBrainChain have aspects of IaaS in that both provide computing power for AI.
Titanium Blockchain Infrastructure Services is running IaaS on a dedicated Ethereum Blockchain that uses Raiden technology to offer a quick and safe transaction service. Storj provides a similar service for hard disk memory space. MaidSAFE plans to offer both decentralized computing power and data storage.
Blockmason’s Link is a new blockchain IaaS that would let developers use smart contracts and programmable blockchains without any blockchain experience. Using Link, programmers will be able to create classic, conventional web-based APIs for any smart contract written on a programmable blockchain.
Blockmason describes Link as a “missing component” in blockchain-based app development. There are no other cryptocurrencies needed, browser plugins, or other barriers. A developer just adds the smart contracts they want to use to Link. Once added, they can read from and write to these smart contracts just like any other API.
Link runs on the BLINK utility token. BLINK allows access to the service and API transaction capacity. BLINK is consumed when a developer uses Link to build an API for their smart contract and the API is used.
For example, Blockmason has a partnership with GoChain so developers that interact with smart contracts on GoChain-compatible blockchains can use Link to speed up development and reduce overhead. Blockmason has also partnered with MagnaChain, a public blockchain platform for game developers.
Blockchain technology is naturally-suited to IaaS use cases. Fundamentally, it is simply a shared computer system infrastructure. Various companies are monetizing this arrangement to offer different blockchain infrastructure component to clients. Because these companies aim to make it as easy as possible to use blockchain technology — even for those who have no previous experience — the growth of the blockchain IaaS sector could facilitate mainstream adoption of blockchain.