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The brave new world of blockchain and cryptocurrency

How it impacts data centers

December 02, 2019

While the use of cryptocurrency remains a controversial subject, the technology behind it, blockchain, is already changing the game in the IT world. Major players like Google, IBM and American Express are investing heavily in it, and data centers and cloud providers need to be prepared.
 
Blockchain defined
Blockchain is a distributed ledger that maintains an ever-increasing list of data records or “blocks”. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp and batches of transaction data. Since the chain is not centralized, there’s no single point of failure and no one organization can claim ownership. The group works together to confirm legitimate transactions.
 
The blockchain approach has important implications for business. Before its introduction, a trusted third party like a government entity or bank had to guarantee the integrity of a financial transaction between two parties. Blockchain eliminates that need.
 

The implications for data centers

  • Blockchain-based calculations are performed best on graphical processing units (GPUs) so data center managers will need to invest in graphic cards and think about how to optimize their infrastructure to accommodate GPU-based servers and other higher network traffic.
  • Blockchain is leading a movement toward decentralized storage, which could change the traditional data center architecture significantly since today’s data centers are largely structured on centralized cloud hosting services.
  • Using cryptographic methods, blockchains can distribute data across multiple servers, which makes hacking them difficult. That’s why, while cryptocurrency was originally designed for the financial services industry, blockchains are now being used by data centers in a variety of industries to boost data security. Still, with cryptocurrency an especially appealing target for cybercriminals, data center managers will need to remain vigilant. Case in point: In January 2018, hackers stole more than $500 worth of cryptocurrency from a cryptocurrency exchange in Japan.
What about your data center customers?
The brave new world of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is still being discussed and debated in IT circles, and what it all means long-term remains an open question. If you’d like to discuss the topic further to gain insights you can share with your customers, talk to one of our data center experts, Samuel Alt or Curt Vurpillat.