Enterprises have been moving their services to the cloud for several years. Peer-to-peer (P2P) services have become well-known, especially with blockchain and crypto. But individual users haven’t really used personal clouds, and the number of real P2P services is still quite limited. But this could soon change.
I wrote earlier about decentralized solutions. Personal clouds and P2P apps are examples of distributed applications mentioned in that article. But let’s take a more concrete and pragmatic approach, what these applications could be and how they work.
I was recently demonstrated some services that are basically apps that users can run locally in their own browser and have data either stored locally or in the user’s own cloud.
These examples might sound simple, but they could be the start of a big revolution in applications and even how the internet is used. Of course, the very fundamental protocol of the Internet, TCP/IP, is based on packets routed from A to B. But in practice, most services during the last three decades have been based on client-server configurations, not local services and/or direct connections between users.
These services raise several technical questions about whether usability would be good enough for mainstream users. For example, users can already set up a connection by sending an invitation with a traditional email and then making the P2P connection with local credentials and sending messages directly or through centralized services like email or messaging apps.
An interesting combination occurs when services use the user’s local applications and the user’s own cloud or similar storage services. It is hard to store and organize all of a user’s data locally when using several devices. However, the scenario changes if users have their own storage services and can get the needed data and apps from there for local use when needed. This storage is not a third-party central service but the user’s own service in a broader global infrastructure.
It sounds complicated, but does this really matter? With blockchain and crypto, we have seen how users can make transactions directly without third parties. It has enabled reliable payments anonymously without an authority or central service to track all transactions. It can offer a more reliable system, better privacy and no single point of failure.
But with these user services and P2P connections, we can do much more than simple crypto payments. Let’s take some examples:
Blockchain and tokens have received a lot of attention, but the examples above better demonstrate distributed applications and peer-to-peer communication. Blockchain and tokens can also be a part of these services. Blockchain could provide a ledger to keep track of transactions and tokens as a model to monetize distributed services. But they are not services alone. It is fundamental to have applications and services that are valuable to users, and then we can use blockchain and tokens in the implementation.
The question is, which services will provide the real breakthrough of user’s personal clouds, apps and pure P2P services, and when? They will probably be linked to personal data, self-sovereign identities, trusted communications and data sharing. We just need a few easy to use applications and after that things can start to evolve rapidly.
The article first appeared on Disruptive.Asia.
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