by Olga Kharif, Mark Bergen, Joe Mayes; Bloomberg
Google researchers are developing blockchain-related technology to support its cloud business and ward off competition from emerging startups. Google insiders recently noted the cloud business is a natural place for blockchain-related services.
Companies use blockchain and other so-called digital ledgers to securely record transactions and process other data over the internet — a service Google could use, for example, to reassure customers that their information is protected when stored on the giant network of computer servers that power its cloud services.
The Alphabet Inc. unit is developing its own distributed digital ledger that third parties can use to post and verify transactions, one of the people said. Although the timing of any product release is unclear, the company plans to offer this to differentiate its cloud service from rivals. It will also provide a white-label version that other companies can run on their own servers, the person added.
To construct its ledger, Google has explored technology from the Hyperledger consortium, but it could choose another type that may be less difficult to scale to run millions of transactions. Google’s Sridhar Ramaswamy says his division has a “small team” investigating blockchain, but the current core technology cannot accommodate many transactions quickly.
Digital ledgers like blockchain power Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. They are databases that are updated regularly across thousands of computers over the internet. Each entry is confirmed by these machines, which can be part of public networks or run privately by companies. There are different kinds of digital ledgers — blockchain is only one. Data crunched by this technology range from transactions to supply-chain updates to digital cats.
The technology presents challenges and opportunities for Google. Distributed networks of computers that run digital ledgers can eliminate risks that come with information held centrally by a single company. While Google’s security is strong, it’s one of the largest holders of information in the world. The decentralized approach is also beginning to support new online services that compete with Google.
One possible application of blockchain technology by Google could entail reassuring its customers that their information is shielded when stored on the giant network of computer servers that power Google’s cloud services. “Like many new technologies, we have individuals in various teams exploring potential uses of blockchain but it’s way too early for us to speculate about any possible uses or plans,” says a company spokesperson. Read the report.