If you are a movie buff like me, you would have tried out six degrees of Kevin Bacon to find your shortest path to the actor of your choice — Bacon included. The actual route to Bacon is not predetermined and can vary depending upon your own network of acquaintances, which can change and potentially grow over time. What if you had the ability to select and configure the optimal path including the acquaintances? More to the point, what if you had an assurance that these acquaintances were inherently secure, with built-in trust? Not just a network of connections, but a Circle of Trust? Say hello to blockchains and join me as I share my thoughts from an enlightening conversation I had with Ian Hood, chief architect, Global Service Provider, Red Hat.
My conversation with Ian explored the manner in which blockchains can be used to inject additional degrees of freedom to upcoming generations of telco consumers across the globe. Blockchains are effectively an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to handle virtually anything of value that are distributed electronically. “The more distributed the architecture, the more applicable such technology,” posits Ian. Also, the density of the consumer population will strongly influence the need for a distributed environment. For obvious reasons, the emerging countries with their growing populations are more likely to benefit from usage of this technology.
Let us take a step back and look at a typical chain of connections across the evolving virtualized cloud-based telco networks starting with the data center, to the points of presence, the edge and access network, and on to the customer premise leading up to the devices where the content is delivered to human consumers like you, me and Ian. As consumers, we really do not have the flexibility today to select and configure the services we want — instead we are offered bundles of services as the telco service providers package them. This article, “Blockchain and the CIO – a new model for IT,” suggests that the CIO can offer a menu of configurable services for the internal customer to choose and configure what they need. Communications service providers can do the same using this technology for any network service or application, including mobile payments and the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) services.
What is the benefit, you ask?
- Streamlining Cost. It is all about distributing the cost of consumption using blockchain and bitcoins with distributed databases of information while maximizing the value at the “point of sale,” so to speak.
- Personalizing Configuration. Businesses can easily configure and consume personalized services – for example, chain a firewall, intrusion protection and other similar services in the sequence of their choice. Moreover, these services tend to have temporal life spans of their own which can also impact the overall consumption model.
- Securing Domains. As non-telco enterprises begin to foray into the telco world, they are going to need to ensure that the services provided do not cross geographical boundaries. Security and privacy becomes a major concern in such business models. As mentioned in this article: “Collective self-interest, hard-coded into this new native digital medium for value, would ensure the safety, security and reliability of commerce.” Trust is programmed into blockchains — also labeled “trust protocol.”
- Transition Integrity. The fundamental tenets of blockchain ensures a platform of integrity which is a vital foundation for a distributed architecture that is replete with multiple handoffs across an array of mobile and IoT devices. Applying blockchains for distributions of services for customers across regions may improve and reduce telco interconnect conflicts.
- Content Reconciliation. Distributed content delivery requires multiple caches and just-in-time encoding with the need for digital rights to be managed end-to-end. Blockchain is a global database — a secure digital ledger of virtually anything of importance to humankind. This ledger represents the source of truth because mass collaboration constantly reconciles it.
There you have it — five different ways the telco industry can benefit by the appropriate usage of blockchain concepts across the network. Healthy injections of open source is already driving innovation across telco service providers. It is no wonder that such innovative enterprises are competitively positioning themselves for the future by foraying into game-changing technologies like blockchain.
What say you? What are other ways blockchain technologies can be employed? Are you getting some ideas on other ways of optimizing your path to the actor of your choice? Makes me wonder about the number of degrees of separation between us. Well, with blockchain technologies, this can be what we configure it to be!
Welcome to our Circle of Trust!