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  • Writer's pictureNick Roquefort-Villeneuve

Cloud vs Blockchain: Centralization vs Decentralization

Let's start in a grandiloquent way: Blockchain will revolutionize the way your organization has been conducting business. Actually, allow me to rephrase. Blockchain has already started to revolutionize the way your industry is conducting business and missing the "B-train" might be a very bad idea. The way you've always been transacting is slowly but surely migrating towards an ecosystem, where collaboration and the tracking of all transactions including all stages that led to those transactions is facilitated. Now imagine a B2C, B2B or B2G transactional environment, where the privacy of all stakeholders and transactions-related data would be preserved, while accessing a technology that promotes transparence and trust.

Think Central: No More?

As much as the Internet seems to bring a sense of absolute freedom to today's society, the reality is quite different. You're fully aware that access to all forms of information you need is indeed a click away simply because you experience it every single day from your desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. But when you take a closer look at it, the Internet as it is constructed represents a false sense of freedom. 90 percent of all online searches are powered by two companies. 85 percent of the ads you see online are pushed to you by one company. The latter is quite instructive in that regard. A single business collects data inherent to your online interactions to monetize it. And you never see the proceeds from such an operation. To conclude, access to information and data on the Internet is highly centralized, and centralization has never equated to freedom (of choice).

Today's Cloud Is Centralized

In a B2B transactional environment, processes are also centralized. The cloud is a centralized technology. At the end of the day, it's nothing more than a bunch of physical servers located inside an air-conditioned facility. It's "the cloud" because you interact indirectly with them online. That's about it in a nutshell. Furthermore, in a B2B transactional ecosystem, intermediaries at more than one level are most of the time required, which creates red tape that risks compromising your organization's financial health. In this context, it's not about undermining your freedom. It's about being vulnerable to data breach, structural and conjectural phenomenon, and the inability of transacting in a truly seamless fashion among key-stakeholders solely.

Blockchain: Peer-to-Peer Platform

This is where Blockchain brings a crucial answer to what appears to be an inextricable problem. Do you remember Napster? Napster was a platform, where individuals could exchange (illegally) music and video files without an intermediary, hence the appellation "peer-to-peer." I understand the first time you downloaded "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys also marked the last time you ever stepped foot inside a Tower Records. Anyway… What if you had access to a technology offering a platform that bypasses the middleman, so you can engage in B2B transactions with your partners in a peer-to-peer mode? Well, Blockchain allows you to do just that, and more. The Blockchain is like giant spreadsheet that runs on millions and millions of computers hence the "decentralization" and intrinsic "unhackable" aspect of the technology.

Smart Contracts

Thanks to smart contracts, say goodbye to disputes and undesired DSO. Smart contracts are an inherent part of a Blockchain platform. They set the rules for your transactions. With smart contracts, you are able to exchange anything of value (money, property, shares, etc.) in a transparent, conflict-free way while avoiding the intervention of a third-party. Why transparent? Each step that leads to the realization of the contract and all the stages afterwards are recorded in the Blockchain and accessible at all times by all parties involved. Why conflict-free? The rules pertaining to the contract are embedded in its code, so obligations are automatically enforced. And those rules are initially agreed upon by all stakeholders.

To Conclude: Decentralization

Blockchain is without question the biggest innovation that computer science has experienced since the emergence of the Internet. Blockchain brings reassurance, where centralized cloud computing fails to do so. Having said that, let's not cast aspersions on cloud computing, because series of interconnected clouds actually form a Blockchain, and therefore become a decentralized structure.

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