Blockchain 101: What Is Distributed Computing?
What Is Distributed Computing?
Distributed computing network consists of computers that communicate with one another. The machines operate close to each other and they are connected physically. Blockchains use networks that employ computers which are geographically dispersed.
The computers used in distributed networks are not required to be specifically formatted or configured in any way. For this job, you can use even laptops, computers or mainframes. With blockchains, there can be employed PCs which use a CPU or GPU, or specialized hardware like an ASIC.
The type of machine used on the network is irrelevant, as they must work as one computer. The end user should not be able to tell the difference between using an interface that has a distributed computing network behind it or just one computer.
Why Use Distributed Computing?
A network that has an increase in users requires more computing resources to keep its platform up and running.
At first, the network can upgrade its server infrastructure by introducing additional memory and bandwidth, which is a type of expansion called vertical scaling. But this method is not practical from a physical and economic point of view when faced with higher numbers.
Distributed computing represents a type of expansion called horizontal scaling, which is best applied in critical levels. Instead of upgrading the current infrastructure, more computers are added to the system to lessen the workload.
A blockchain differs from a typical distributed system by being a peer-to-peer network. In the rest of our article, we will explore the pros and cons of distributed computing in the context of the blockchain.
Pros of Distributed Computing
– Fault Tolerance and Redundancy
The most important benefit of distributed computing is that in the eventuality one or two machines on the network experiences downtime, it doesn’t affect the network’s performance as the rest of the machines handle the workload.
This means that a network is never down and it can run non-stop. Such type of platform is useful in trading in crypto, however, it also poses more advantages for blockchain use. Supply chain systems can also benefit from blockchain use as they experience no downtime.
– Cost-effective and efficient
Distributed systems are more efficient and cost less than centralized systems. The second ones are efficient up to a certain size, after which the scaling has to be done horizontally instead of vertically. By increasing the number of machines in a network, you make things more efficient both from a technological and economical perspective.
In terms of computing power, distributed computing allows systems to be scaled easier than with centralized computing. It’s not that difficult to just add more computers to increase the computing performance of a network and reduce them when you require less power.
However, blockchain does come with some issues regarding scalability. In a blockchain, transactions are processed at fixed time intervals called transaction speed. This scalability drawback is derived from needing the nodes in a blockchain to establish consensus on the transactions that are occurring. Therefore, while distributed computing comes with greater scalability, the time needed to reach consensus on a blockchain is why scalability is obstructed on transaction speeds.
Cons of Distributed Computing
In comparison to a centralized system, distributed systems have a troubleshooting process which is more complex and difficult. It is difficult to manage the community of developers, node operators, and investors without having any centralization to operate all matters. Consequently, most of the complexity of running a blockchain stems from the need of applying decentralized governance at a larger scale.
Companies which employ distributed systems must make sure that all devices from the network are secure, as well as guarantee data reliability among different machines.
Blockchain uses consensus protocols to secure its network. This protocol makes all network participants agree on one true source and it also prevent any ill-intentioned actors. Provided that 51 percent of the network keeps acting in the benefit of the network, continuing to remain secure.
The problem here is that if more mining pools had a cumulated hashing power, they could be able to start a 51 percent attack. This is why the community is in favor of going for full decentralization so that no one entity dominates a network.
An organization that opts to implement a distributed computing system will have to pay a higher price for initial setup operations compared to a centralized system. The cost is higher because distributed systems involve using more hardware.
Decentralized blockchains must first set up a preliminary base of node workers which runs the software on their hardware. Even though no hardware is purchased by the blockchain, they do need to interest and convince the node operators to run only their blockchain software on their computers. This is why many ICOs reserve a sum of the initial funds raised for marketing in order to attract a user base of node operators for their network.
We hope now that you have finished our article you have a better understanding of what distributed computing is, more precise- the core feature of a blockchain system.