Blockchain Can Make the Internet a Safer and Faster Place
Content delivery networks have become an integral part of the internet as we know it today. To date, around 50 percent of websites and online services utilize a CDN, which provides notable benefits for both publishers and internet users.
For publishers, a CDN helps reduce bandwidth usage, thus helping conserve on resources. A CDN also gives the added benefit of protecting servers against traffic based attacks like distributed denial-of-service or DDoS. Thus, these two services go hand-in-hand, and major service providers market these together.
For users, meanwhile, a CDN ensures faster delivery of websites and applications, by caching content on servers located nearer to their geo-location. This reduces latency and also improves security on the part of end-users through front-end optimization.
One of the basic fundamentals behind a CDN provider is that it is supposed to deploy data centers worldwide, to ensure adequate coverage and point of presence wherever a user is. The more nodes a CDN has, the better ability it has to deliver content at a faster speed to users within the vicinity. More nodes also mean that a CDN has better capability in diffusing the effects of a DDoS attack.
Therefore, you might expect that a major CDN brand would have points-of-presence virtually anywhere – even in remote regions and markets around the globe. This is not the case, however.
As of their latest data, two of the biggest CDNs in the world seem to lack adequate support for several countries, like Russia and China.
Take these for example:
In the image above, Cloudflare showcases its 118 datacenters around the globe with speeding up access for customers in these regions. Notable, however, is the sparse number of datacenters in countries like China, Russia and other Central European countries. In fact, it also has a limited presence in Africa and South America, and even in Australia.
Meanwhile, in the image above, Incapsula also describes its network of 40 datacenters, which have a capacity of 47 Tbps. Similar to Cloudflare, the company also focuses on certain regions, which means access from other parts of the globe may not be as fast as desired. It also has lack of points-of-presence in China, Russia, and countries.
What does this mean for users and businesses?
Given the limited point of access in some regions, users in countries like China and Russia, might experience slow access, since they do not have a nearby point of presence.
Another potentially disadvantageous scenario is that users in firewalled ecosystems – such as that of China, with its “great firewall of China” – might have an even more difficult time accessing content from outside the country.
Both Cloudflare and Incapsula, for one, have a presence in major China cities like Beijing, Shenzen and the like. However, it is mostly meant for servicing business users in these major areas only who want to enhance their reach to users outside of China. For end-users, the benefit might be limited.
According to Cloudflare, it has had to partner with local service providers in order to establish its network in China. Looking deeper, however, his might result in some performance degradation, and there might be content restrictions or censorship.
What role does the blockchain play?
By definition, blockchains are distributed ledgers that store data and transactions on an immutable and accessible node. The beauty of blockchain is that it does not have a need of for central authority – it manages itself, and through smart contracts, it facilitates transactions across users without the need for intervention.
What relevance does this have with CDN? Today, an emerging strategy in deploying applications is doing this on the blockchain. In particular, the Ethereum blockchain is now a popular platform for deploying solutions because of its capability for smart contracts.
In the content delivery network business, an emerging company is Gladius, which seeks to democratize deployment of CDNs and DDoS protection by enabling virtually any user to share his or her computer as a node. This means that Gladius can potentially have a node and point-of-presence anywhere – including those places where the major CDNs do not have a presence.
And unlike traditional CDNs, the business model with Gladius is likewise decentralized. Users who share their excess bandwidth and computing resources by being part of Gladius will receive incentives and compensation in the form of Gladius’ own GLA token. This can then be used to pay for services on the network, or exchanged for cryptocurrency or fiat money.
Conclusion: Decentralization means unlimited growth potential
It is not limited to content delivery. Deploying services over the blockchain also makes sense for other applications that will benefit from a decentralized approach, which means better access from places that more traditional services could not reach due to content blocking and firewalls.
There is, therefore, unlimited growth potential for blockchain-based applications of CDN and DDoS protection. For as long as there is fair compensation in order to incentivize users in establishing their own computers as network nodes, then global networks like Gladius will thrive.
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