Cloud computing (CC) provides users effective on-cloud access to files and resources. It issues processing power, resource storage, and applications for users to access at any time.
Cloud computing is mostly used by businesses, institutions, and individuals. However, most cloud computing services work on centralized clouds, e.g., Netflix, hosted in Amazon’s cloud.
Decentralized cloud computing disintegrates computation into a large number of computers across a network. It keeps gaining popularity as cryptocurrency blockchains build dApps in it.
And the blockchains do so to leverage upon the affordability and high performance of the decentralized CC. Golem, Sia, and Maidsafecoin are examples of blockchain projects that deploy the decentralized CC model.
Another unique decentralized CC protocol is iExec RLC. In this iExec RLC review, we will explain all you need to know about the protocol and what makes it special.
The iExec RLC protocol is a decentralized cloud computing protocol that is used for building off-chain dApps. It doesn’t have a centralized server for processing its computations. iExec RLC rather distributes its computations to multiple nodes around the network.
While other cryptocurrency protocols are based on supercomputing or data storage, iExec RLC utilizes the cloud for its processing power.
Filecoin and Sia protocols provide decentralized storage capabilities. This means that you can lease your storage to others for profit. The iExec RLC protocol focuses on cloud computing advantages. As a user, you can monetize your free computing power over a decentralized network.
The Ethereum-hosted protocol enables both users and dApps access to cloud computing power. Its platform supports high-processing applications in fields as Artificial Intelligence, Finance, and Big Data.
The protocol’s network consists of processing resource providers. These resource providers are also known as “iExec RLC Workers.” iExec RLC workers include normal users, dApp providers, and data providers.
To be a worker, you connect your processing device or machine to the network. Your connected machine earns your RLC tokens. dApp developers also can monetize their deployed algorithms and applications. Also, data providers of very useful data sets can make them available to other users in the iExec RLC platform.
iExec RLC originated from 2 researchers in parallel and distributed computing. Their first attempt was utilizing large distributed computing platforms to provide high-demand data-centered science.
The majority of the distributed processing was offered by network volunteers, but there wasn’t a worthy system of rewarding. And though the availability of payment systems, there were no means to ensure that the volunteers performed the computations correctly.
The presence of Blockchain tech creates an avenue for smart contracts to be used to make orders and payments on the protocols Marketplace. The blockchains provide mechanisms for performing decision-making over performance results.
These mechanisms reward resource providers and minimize bad actors. They are a part of the iExec RLC “Proof-of-contribution” protocol. The native token used for performing rewards and governance in the protocol is the RLC token.
A team of developers, scientists, and researchers created the iExec RLC in the year 2016. The Initial Coin offering (ICO) of the protocol took place in France on April 19, 2017. The company raised $12.5 million in less than 3 hours.
Before further describing how the iExec RLC protocol works, let’s understand the topic of cloud computing.
Cloud computing is computing over the internet. You can store files, access applications, process computations. It helps you to perform technical activities in an inexpensive, reliable, and scalable way.
The market capitalization of the centralized cloud computing industry in 2020 was a whopping $375 billion. This is because CC has become that need computing power while maintaining cost on infrastructure. Companies like Apple, Netflix, or Xerox depend on cloud providers like Google, Amazon, or Microsoft to handle their applications. This is because these cloud providers have thousands of servers with large processing powers that enable high data-centered computations.
Thus, companies outsource these resources to cloud providers. This reduces the cost of hardware, space, and computational requirements.
However, the servers in centralized clouds are located in fixed locations. But rather than letting the company determine the locations of these servers, decentralized computing emerged differently.
Decentralized cloud computing allows for the servers and resources in the cloud to be distributed within the cloud network. The resources aren’t in a fixed location. Its functionalities are similar to that of Amazon and Google but in a distributed manner. They aren’t also controlled by cloud providers.
Decentralized CC uses the Ethereum blockchain to host applications. The computation comes from individual nodes across the blockchain network. The problem arising from decentralized cloud computing is that the Etheruem Virtual Machine can’t perform heavy data-intensive computations effectively.
The smart contracts in Ethereum’s VM can’t execute heavy duties efficiently. Thus, bringing a problem.
Ethereum is bringing a global change in the finance industry. It enables the use of permissionless, decentralized smart contracts. These smart contracts provide clear, trustless asset transactions for the novel Internet of Values (IoV). Decentralized Applications (dApps) use Ethereum for the blockchain needs while storing the terms of contracts on the chain. The Ethereum VM handles the execution of the smart contracts.
The VM is a perfect machine for performing basic transactions. Ethereum’s VM is also a Turing-complete machine that executes business logic well within a finite time. But, it faces a challenge with heavy computations.
Currently, this is not a problem because there is no working product for most dApps. And majorly, dApps utilize the Ethereum blockchain for Initial Coin Offering (ICO) sales. Ethereum effectively handles ICO sales. But as these dApps begin to deploy working products and their computational demands rise, the VM will struggle with that.
The VM struggling with data-intensive computations will, in turn, multiply the transactional fees for them.
Solving this problem is off-chain computing. Meaning that dApps perform rigorous computations away from the blockchain and return with results for verifications. iExec provides this. dApps can utilize iExec’s cloud services to perform executions securely, effectively, and affordably.
Simple implementations this is the Flixxo dApp. The platform operates like Google’s Youtube in encoding and decoding videos on the mainnet. The number of videos on the chain will demand a very high processing power. iExec RLC’s team assures Flixxo of the provision of the required computational power.
Another use case is the Request protocol that offers automatic auditing of financial records. This process is very rigorous and needs high processing power. iExec RLC also provides computational accessibility to this protocol.
We’ve earlier stated that iExec RLC enables dApps and smart contracts to perform rigorous transactions off-chain for them to run seamlessly.
iExec RLC achieves this by utilizing a software called XtremeWeb-HEP. The XtremeWeb-HEP is a desktop grid software that pools all available resources and provides them for dApps and smart contracts.
iExec RLC’s development team developed this cloud software during their research in cloud computing. Thus, allowing developers to access large pools of processing machines. XtremeWeb-HEP makes app development scalable and driven by free-market.
The desktop grid platform executes all needed features to make this project accessible on a global view. These features include robustness, multiple users, multiple applications, hybrid public/private tools, data handling, etc. Smart contracts bridge the connection between available hosts and client requirements. Smart contracts use a match-making algorithm.
This match-making algorithm tracks a resource request to a proper resource provider. If there is an available resource to handle the computation, it executes. Else, it terminates. The smart contracts use the Proof-of-contribution mechanism to make sure users get their required resources.
The components in iExec RLC consist of three features. They are:
The dApps store is iExec RLC’s equivalent of Google’s Playstore or Apple App store. iExec RLC deployed their dApps store on December 20th, 2017. Users can access apps on the dApps store and pay using the RLC tokens. It also provides dApp developers the avenue to release their applications for monetization if they want.
The dApps store is the only platform to bridge users with iExec RLC dApps.
The Data Marketplace is the interface where users can interact with and access data. It is the data equivalent of the dApps store. RLC’s Marketplace is the platform for the utilization of Big Data. These data may include medical records, statistics, financial records, stocks, etc. Individuals, applications, and services can access these data and pay for them.
The Marketplace came into the picture in May 2019 as part of the V3 update. Also, the RLC token is the currency for transactional payments.
This component provides users access to perform transactions with cloud computing resources. This feature solves the problem of cost and scalability on cloud infrastructure. A user can release his free computing resources to the network in exchange for the RLC token as payment. Developers and individuals can browse for the required processing resources for their software.
It allows users to state the required level of trust they deem worthy. Users can also pick from a large array of computing resources. These resources include CPU, GPU, or even Trusted Execution Environments (TEE). The more trust is required for computational results, the high the price of the transaction.
The resources marketplace also provides a smart contract that evaluates the reliability of a resource provider. This smart contract is called the “Reputation” smart contract. The more reliable a resource provider is, the costlier they’d charge. However, if a user desires less cost, they’d have to settle for less reliable resource providers.
The iExec RLC development team consists of a team of professional scientists, developers, and scientists. It includes 6 PhDs, of which four of them are cloud computing scientists. They include Gilles Fedak, Oleg Lodygensky, Haiwu He, and Mircea Moca.
Gilles Fedak and Haiwu are the co-founders of the iExec RLC protocol. Their contributions to grid cloud computing have made them very influential in cloud computing. Fedak (CEO of iExec RLC) has over 14 years of experience in cloud research.
Previously, Fedak worked as a permanent Research Scientist at INRIA—a research institute for Digital Science and Technology. He has a Master’s degree in Computer Science and a Ph.D. in Philosophy and has coauthored over 80 scientific journals.
Haiwu He (Head of the Asian-Pacific Region) is a professor at the Computer Network Information Center (CNIC). He’s also a professor in the Chinese Academy of Sciences and is a Scholar in the Ministry of Education of China. Additionally, Haiwu worked at INRIA as a researcher. Dr. He received his MSc and Ph.D. degrees in Computing at USTL, France.
He has published over 30 journals and scientific papers in Blockchain, Big Data, and HPC.
The four researchers began the development of distributed cloud computing based on grid computing in 2012. However, there were restraints in the implementation of the concept. In 2016, Fedak discovered the Ethereum blockchain and how it could be used to solve the problem. RLC’s headquarters is in Lyon, France, and its subordinate in Hong Kong.
All cryptocurrency protocols have internal tokens of executions or governance. In iExec RLC, the native token is RLC. This token enables users to access the platform’s computational power. The term RLC is an abbreviation for “Run-on-Lots-of-Computers.”
RLC tokens perform utility purposes for the protocol. They are utilized for payments for transactions. The RLC token is an ERC-20 token that executes on Ethereum’s blockchain. The ICO of the protocol occurred on April 17th, 2017. Over 60 million RLC tokens were sold at $0.2521 each.
The total amount of RLC tokens are fixed. There won’t be any new token created any longer. Token prices increases as more people purchase and utilize the token. During its crowd sale, the team raised 173,886 ETH and 2,761 BTC, amounting to €12 million as of then. The price of the RLC token currently is $2.85.
Image Credit: CoinMarketCap
For the distribution of the token, the ICO shared 69%, the development team and advisors withheld 17.2%. They also stored 6.9% for emergency contingency funds. Also, the remaining 6.9% converted into network rewards and developments.
There are 87 million RLC tokens in circulation today. The token has a total market capitalization of $298 million at the time of writing. Most of the trading volume for the protocol occurs on Binance Exchange. Howbeit, Bittrex and Upbit trade largely as well.
The RLC token can be purchased on the above exchanges and stored in any wallet that supports ERC-20 standards. These wallets can be MyEtherWallet, TrustWallet, or MetaMask.
iExec RLC has partnered with some important cooperations. They include very high-profiled companies. We have listed a few partners of the iExec RLC protocol.
IBM has collaborated with iExec RLC in the implementation of the SGX tech. The aim is to provide a zero-trust, secure, and reliable platform for developing applications.
Alibaba aggregated with Intel and iExec RLC in the RSA conference in the USA in 2019. The conference aimed to provide security against cyber threats. The integration includes Alibaba’s Encrypted computing, which is hosted by Intel’s SGX technology. It is all used to back up iExec’s TEE (Trust Execution Environment).
On the 14th of June, 2020, Google announced the release of its Confidential Computing Program’s Beta release. Google cloud partnering with iExec RLC amongst others—to deploy RLC’s TEE for data security. This is used in the blockchain’s decentralized marketplace to provide privacy protection.
iExec RLC has integrated with Nvidia’s Inception program integrated cutting-edge decentralized computing with sophisticated expertise on GPU computing. Nvidia’s Inception is an online accelerator program that assists startup companies in their early stages.
Intel combines with iExec RLC and ShanghaiTech University to provide a solution for people, IoT devices, and other computers. The combination is done using 5G technology, Blockchain, and IoT devices to implement Enterprise Ethereum Alliance* and (EEA*) Trusted Compute API (TC API).
EDF partnered with iExec RLC to deploy its data-intensive simulators. EDF just recently released GPUSPH to RLC’s platform. The GPUSPH is an application that models fluids developed by EDF.
Genesis Cloud and iExec RLC collaborated to provide excellent performance GPUs cheaply. The cloud’s devices enable sophisticated big data analytics, cognitive computing science, effects rendering, and Machine Learning.
iExec RLC faces several strong competitions in the decentralized cloud market. However, these protocols differ in functionalities and features. Below we have listed a few of RLC’s competitions.
SONM is also a decentralized cloud computing protocol. The protocol utilizes Fog and Edge computing. But, Fog and Edge computing are both complicated topics. Their scopes are much larger and ambiguous in implementation.
iExec RLC plans on scaling to integrate them but, there’s a strong limitation. A strong foundation and a fully-working system are necessary to implement Fog and Edge computing. The process is slow and repetitive. For SONM to utilize Fog and Edge computing from the base seems unrealistic and unpredictable.
Golem is an open-source distributed cloud computing platform for users to access at will. The platform implements extremely fast digital rendering. The process of rendering animations and digital images is rigorous. The protocol aims to bring 3D animators, artists, and designers.
Siacoin is a decentralized cloud storage platform that is backed up by blockchain technology. The protocol utilizes free hard disk storage globally to create a distributed and global data storage.
The cryptocurrency market needs a protocol like iExec RLC. The development team consists primarily of professors and cloud computing experts. But it still experiences a challenge in marketing to a global stage.
The coin does stand a chance against large centralized cloud computing servers. Its recent integration with high-performance cloud servers and cooperations provides a positive standing for the token. We hope that this iExec RLC review has helped you to understand the protocol better.
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