Hope everyone is enjoying the slow crawl back to a 60K Bitcoin. This week saw Matic Network get some great 100% gains for its recent rebrand to Polygon Technologies. With Pirate Chain and Waves (can’t make this stuff up folks) giving holders a nice 70%+ bump as well. Surprisingly to me when looking back, we haven’t discussed much of any cloud computing service providers developing in the space at the moment. So with the intention of changing that, today we’ll be looking at a new protocol launched last year by utilizing the Cosmos blockchain called Akash Network.
The Akash Network is a secure, transparent, and decentralized cloud computing marketplace that connects those who need computing resources (clients) with those that have the capacity to sell (providers). Known as “DeCloud”, Akash acts as a serverless super cloud by providing a unified layer on top of existing providers in the marketplace. Creating a singular cloud-based platform, regardless of the specific provider being used. Clients can be drawn into Akash because of its cost advantage, usability, and flexibility to move between providers. With extra performance benefits in relation to global deployments. Providers use Akash because it allows them to earn profits by selling dedicated or unused capacity. The primary driver for cloud adoption is the promise of flexibility and cost advantage, but the reality is that the products offered by current cloud providers are overpriced, complicated, and lock clients into ecosystems that limit their ability to innovate, compete, and have sovereignty over their infrastructure needs. The difference in capital expenditure of purchasing hardware and leasing data centers and running the cloud on-premise is marginal. But the current cloud providers have a significant advantage with operating expenditure because of their investments in automation and minimal human interactions. This model adopted by the providers stifles innovation as it reduces the chance of an open-source project succeeding. Cloud providers act as middlemen that set the rules of engagement for the industry while making no contribution to society as a whole.
The foundational design goal of the Akash Network is to maintain a low barrier for entry to providers while at the same time ensuring that clients can trust the resources that the platform offers them. Akash is primarily a platform that allows clients to get resources from providers. This is enabled by a Cosmos-powered distributed exchange where clients post their desired resources for providers to bid on. To support running workloads on procured resources, Akash includes a peer-to-peer protocol for distributing workloads and deployment configuration to and between a client’s providers. Workloads in Akash are defined as Docker containers. These containers allow for isolated and configurable execution environments, and already part of many cloud-based deployments today. Akash is also politically decentralized. So, no single entity controls the network and no intermediary facilitates transactions. Making it so that no entity is incentivized to control or extract unintended marginal revenue from the network. Akash is currently developing an all-in-one Node called Supermini that will allow anyone to operate a node right out of the box. With the first 300 units selling out, the current waiting list is available for Q3 2021 pre-orders. This allows anyone to quickly and easily generate passive income at home or their office by becoming a cloud provider on Akash’s DeCloud Network. You can run an application, machine learning workload, or offer your Supermini’s unused computing power to earn tokens. With Supermini the cost to users is reduced by over 90% when compared to traditional cloud service providers. Packed with an NVIDIA Volta GPU, 16 Core CPU, 24GB Memory, 500GB Storage, LCD Display, and GigaEthernet Capabilities it’s a fantastic starting point for those with or without blockchain knowledge to become part of the network.
Once resources have been procured, Clients must distribute their workloads to Providers so that they can execute on the leased resources. Referred to as the current state of the client’s workloads on the Akash Network as a Deployment. A user describes their desired Deployment in a Manifest. The Manifest is then written in a declarative file format that contains workload definitions, configuration, and connection rules. Providers use these definitions and configurations to execute the workloads on the resources they are providing and use the connection rules to build their overlay network and firewall configurations. A Hash of the Manifest, also known as the “Deployment Version” is then stored on this distributed database. These Manifests contain highly sensitive information meant only to be shared with participants of the Deployment. This poses a problem for self-managed deployments as Akash must distribute the workload definition autonomously and without revealing its contents to unnecessary participants. To address these issues, Akash has devised a peer-to-peer file sharing scheme in which lease participants distribute the manifest to one another as needed. The protocol runs off-chain over a TLS connection, meaning each participant can verify the manifest they received by computing its hash and comparing this with the deployment version stored in the database. Besides providing private, secure, autonomous manifest distribution. This P2P protocol also enables the fastest distribution of larger manifests in data centers.
Many web-based applications are latency-sensitive. With lower response times from application servers translating into a dramatically improved end-user experience. Modern deployments use CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) to deliver static content such as images to end-users quickly. CDNs provide reduced latency by distributing content so that it is geographically closer to the users that are accessing it. Deployments on the Akash Network can not only replicate this approach but possibly beat it by giving clients the ability to place specific dynamic content closer to an application’s user base. To install a self-managed dynamic delivery network on Akash, a DevOps engineer would simply include a management tier in their deployment to check the geographical location of their clients. This tier could access functions like adding and removing data centers across the globe, provisioning more resources in regions where user activity is high, and fewer resources in regions where user participation is low. Additionally, machine learning applications can be deployed on Akash into management tiers that buy resources within a single data center. As a machine learning task begins, the management tier can “scale up” the number of nodes for it so when the task completes, the resources provisioned for it can be relinquished.
Akash Network leverages AKT as the primary means to govern, secure, and provide a default mechanism for storage and exchange. Starting with 100 Million AKT and through a series of inflation mechanisms. The Total Supply of Akash Tokens is capped at 389 Million. The initial 100 Million tokens were distributed 14% to Seed Participants, 20% Validators, 2% Public Sale, 26% Overclock Labs (Team), and 38% Treasury. After raising $2 Million USD for private rounds, Akash held its public sale via Auction on BitMax with separate capped and uncapped events for a total of 1.8 Million AKT. Bidding was held between $0.18 USD and $0.33 USD per AKT. No information on private vesting schedules or the sales price is able to be verified.
As in the early days of an economy, there’s not enough monetary incentive provided to first movers with the network still building demand. Less so with the previous centralized distribution model. One of those inflation mechanisms added to Akash in the max supply is an early block reward until a healthy threshold of organic reward is met. This block reward is adjusted based on the network and number of tokens being Staked. With emissions halving based in accordance to not only the staked weight but timed staked weight as well. Full compensation in the network is only achieved for those willing to provide a 365-day commitment. Akash Token will act as the reserve currency in Akash’s multi-currency and multi-chain ecosystem while ensuring economic security of the platform’s public blockchain through Staking. When a new provider chooses to offer its resources on the Akash network, rather than being approved, it must stake a meaningful value on the network in Akash tokens. By utilizing Cosmos PoS consensus staking AKT is managed through a Tendermint based Byzantine-Fault method. As part of this mechanism in Akash, you have Delegators and Validators staking large portions of AKT to provide security to its ecosystem. These Delegators are rewarded with a part of fees collected on the network through various methods like Lease Fees that go into a series of pools in the network.
Founded as Akash Network and headquartered in San Francisco, The project is actually operated by Overclock Labs and its Founders CEO Greg Osuri and CTO Adam Bozanich. Before Akash, Greg founded AngelHack, the world’s largest hackathon organization with over 200,000 developers across 164 cities across the globe. Greg was instrumental in the passing of California’s first Blockchain law, providing the first expert-witness testimony at the Senate. Before Akash Adam led software development at Symantec, One Kings Lane, and Marketron. Holding a U.S. patent for the invention of Network Protocol Fuzzing; a security analysis method that dynamically tests a system’s resilience to protocol abuse. Joining as COO is Boz Menzalji, CGO Maly Ly, CFO Cheng Wang, Senior Marketing Manager Michael Gushansky, Content Manager Olive Kimoto, Head of Communications Kelsey Ruizand, Operations Manager Steph Bernstein, with Engineers Artur Troian, Ryan Sumpter, and Eric Urban.
Early funding in Akash comes from only a few Seed participants. Most notably serial blockchain investor George Burke. Known for his early investments in Origin Protocol and Quantstamp he’s joined by Digital Asset Capital Management (The Graph, Harmony, Kava Labs, Algorand) and Infinite Capital (Theta Labs, Synthetix, Ren, Terra).
Since the AKT tokens were released last October 15th, 2020. The price remained stable for quite some time. With only 2.8% (2.8 Million AKT) of the initial 100 Million, Supply released at launch Akash Token had a lot of room to run. While trading volume remained below $1 Million USD the first 60 days AKT remained between $0.40 and $0.50 USD. Once reaching daily volume in excess the AKT token began pushing up to $1 the second week of January this year. Reaching $6 USD at the end of February AKT had its first minor correction to $5 met with the support that immediately pushed the price to a new all-time high of $7.30 USD in less than 48 hours from its previous low. The price is continuing to test this $5 level at the time of writing.
The Akash community has been separated into two parts with Users and developers having separate areas to converse with each other. As most of the community aligned with price appreciation of the asset is in the project’s 15k Telegram group. While the 3k member Discord channel is predominantly made up of developers working on the project. With almost 30k Twitter followers, Akash also has its own Blog to make announcements and release content on. For developers, Akash has provided some tools with full specification Documentation, Github Workflow, and general Repositories updated on a weekly basis.
With the token metrics outlined above, there’s an element of centralization in Akash Network. With the Akash development team controlling almost 65% of the total supply, they control the chain indefinitely. Including the ability to become a Validator in their ecosystem. I’ve spoken at great lengths about this type of setup and how disheartening it is to see in projects like this who proclaim to be “decentralized”. Unfortunately, Akash has failed miserably to properly distribute its network’s value. This also gets very convoluted with the project developed by separate entity OverClock Labs with their prior funding in 2017 from 13 separate investors. Accepting project funds through Akash to pay back prior funding in OverClock. OverClock does not have its own website or directory like many other projects operate in this capacity. Where the lines should be clearly defined, they’re very blurry in regards to Akash Network and OverClock Labs; previously separated as (ovrclk.com)
Akash Network combines some key components to interest users into the network. With large amounts of unused capacity at major corporate data centers. Akash not only gives individual users advantages but these mega centers the ability to use their unused resources. To sell them in an open market as well as get on-demand services when they are at capacity. With the foundation of Akash built in an open-source manner. Everyone is equal in the network, whether you’re Google, Amazon, or Joe Dirt out in the swamps. No one entity has an advantage or disadvantage over the other. From a foundational perspective, Akash has some incredible talent and brainpower going into their development even if the cost to the network is high. For existing developers, in the cloud computing space, the transition is seamless when using Akash. As primarily Linux-powered libraries are one of the core teams’ strongest knowledge pools. With Akash, a user is guaranteed to receive the services they’ve procured in the Manifest. Something that can not be said about current providers in the space. As corporations’ objectives hardly ever align with their users, censorship is a serious concern to have for our data. This alone gives Akash a great advantage in the future of cloud computing services.
Until next time, remember that the only guarantee is BTC. So keep stacking that Satoshi.