Blockchain is undergoing a critical turning point, shifting from an emerging technology into a useful business tool that enterprises want to incorporate into existing IT stacks. As more companies continue to explore how blockchain can help achieve digital transformation, major cloud service providers are showing increased interest.
For example, Google Cloud recently became a network block producer by joining the EOS blockchain community. Block producers on EOS are elected by token holders to add transactions to blocks, add blocks to the blockchain, and implement software changes.
While Google Cloud must still be elected to become one of the 21 active EOS block producers, Allen Day, developer advocate at Google Cloud, told Cointelegraph that Google is broadly interested in open-source protocols and distributed ledger technology, or DLT:
“We’re seeing active enterprise participation in these sorts of networks, and believe Google Cloud can reduce the friction for companies to run their own Google Cloud-hosted nodes on the network. We’re also providing cloud infrastructure to Block.one as well, helping them host their own development efforts.”
Earlier this year, Google Cloud also joined Hedera Hashgraph’s governing council, enabling Google Cloud to operate a Hedera network node. According to Day, Hedera ledger data is now available for analytics alongside Google Cloud Platform’s other public distributed ledger datasets. Google Cloud also runs a validator node for the Theta Network, a decentralized video platform.
In addition to Google Cloud’s support for DLT, Amazon Web Services is listed as a cloud service provider for China’s Blockchain-Based Service Network — a government-backed initiative designed to help small- to medium-sized businesses build and deploy blockchain applications. It’s also notable that Microsoft announced it would be integrating the Lition blockchain into its Azure Cloud marketplace.
DLT and cloud technology enable digital transformation
According to Day, DLTs, like blockchain, are enabling digital transformation. As such, Google wants to increase awareness of how companies can benefit by actively participating on blockchain networks. Specifically, Google Cloud is ramping up its own security measures by participating on blockchain networks. Day explained that Google Cloud will leverage advanced security measures on EOS and is building security through progressive layers to deliver in-depth defense:
“We do not assume any trust between services, and use multiple mechanisms to establish and maintain trust. Data stored on our Google infrastructure is automatically encrypted at rest, and communications over the internet to our cloud services are encrypted.”
Kevin Rose, senior vice president of public blockchain engagement at Block.one — the company behind EOS — told Cointelegraph that Google’s participation on EOS will enable new business models for both parties to drive the digital economy.
Alistair Rennie, general manager of IBM Blockchain, told Cointelegraph that blockchain and cloud technologies work quite well together, “Blockchain delivers the missing element of trust that cloud technology alone can’t provide,” he said. “Cloud providers are growing increasingly interested in blockchain as a means to enabling greater trust and seamless collaboration among disparate stakeholders.”
Will major firms bring centralization to blockchain?
As major cloud service providers join the blockchain revolution, community members may question the impact this could have on a decentralized ecosystem.
Despite this, as the blockchain space continues to mature, it appears that big players like Google, Amazon and Microsoft are indeed being welcomed in. Konstantin Richter, founder and CEO of Blockdaemon — a multi-chain cloud network management tool — told Cointelegraph that EOS has previously faced scrutiny over the lack of diversity among its block producers. However, Richter explained that bringing Google Cloud into the EOS community should certainly help the ecosystem generate more traction:
"It’s important to enable participation and allow for degrees of decentralization to create a more efficient, fair and open financial system since it is a hard requirement for accountability and validity of data. We strive to allow decentralization on an infrastructure level, but we’re no substitute for a pure diverse set of node owners.”
Echoing Richter, Drew Saunders, founder and CEO of PAC Global — a decentralized storage platform — told Cointelegraph that reliable blockchain contribution is needed regardless of the individuals or companies involved. Saunders commented that Google Cloud is reputably known for reliability and that EOS already has a broad, decentralized user base supporting the network.
But since the EOS network relies on 21 block producers that must be voted in by token holders, it seems that concerns over one block producer or node validator failing to carry out governance duties should not result in a network failure. Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that Google Cloud has yet to be elected in. Rose mentioned that Google Cloud could be voted in quickly if EOS token holders feel it’s necessary:
“It’s really up to Google Cloud and what their plans are for engaging with the EOS Network community. And because voting on EOS is open-ended and continuous, to ensure that the top 21 are always a real-time reflection of the aggregate will of the EOS token-holders, we will be constantly evaluating Google Cloud against our criteria, just as we do with all Block Producer candidates.”