Golem is a distributed computing network based on an Ethereum smart-contract payment system. It allow its users to buy or sell computational power from their peers, offering a competitive alternative to traditional centralized cloud-based platforms like Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure. This decentralized solution can be used for pretty much anything, from stock market simulations, to protein folding simulation, to CGI rendering, and even cryptocurrency mining
Anyone can join the network as a buyer or seller, being able to perform any of the roles as the situation requires, making Golem a prosumer market. Sellers can monetize their idle computational power which creates a passive source of income, and buyers can perform computational tasks that are too demanding for their hardware easily and for a fair price.
The Golem network will function much like an exchange for computing power, in which buyers and sellers can create and take order for tasks, allowing the market to set a fair price for the computing power. Buyers define a task using Golem’s Task Definition Framework and libraries for high-level programming languages and submit the tasks which will then be split into subtasks and performed by the seller’s host machines. The payment system that will reward sellers will be built on Ethereum to allow nano-payments that can be as low as $0.001, allowing a task to be split and conducted by many nodes. Golem will also developers to monetize applications running on the network.
Although some initial use cases for Software Microservices like CGI rendering will be developed and implemented by the Golem team, it’s expected that a high number of quality applications will be created by independent software developers, providing them with flexible and efficient tools to deploy, distribute, and monetize software running on Golem.
In order to fund the development of the Golem Network and its payment system, the Golem Project has recently hosted a crowdfunding campaign that gathered more than 800 thousand Ether in exchange for Golem Network Tokens (GNT), which is used as a transfer of value in the Golem Network to buy and sell computational power, although additional features will be added later on. The value proposition behind the token in its initial offering lies in the potential for growth of the Golem Project, creating a higher demand for the token while its supply remains static. Cloud computing is a huge market, with a yearly turnover of $175 billion in 2015, estimated to grow to $203.9 in 2016. In particular, the market for SaaS (Software as a Service) on the cloud is estimated to be worth $37.7 billion. Infrastructure services (PaaS and IaaS) are estimated to be worth $27 billion. These are optimistic numbers for a competitive market for computing and software that runs on a decentralized model.
The Golem team has recently released an Alpha version of their software, currently running on the Ethereum testnet (which means that the Ether received will be worthless). Anyone can test the dapp here in order to better understand its underlying structure. To learn more about Golem, you can check out their website and whitepaper