A Bridge to the New Internet: Holo Enables Peer-to-Peer Hosting of Decentralized and Scalable Holochain Applications

A Bridge to the New Internet: Holo Enables Peer-to-Peer Hosting of Decentralized and Scalable Holochain Applications

TL; DR: Holo, a new distributed hosting platform, aims to create a marketplace for peer-to-peer applications that anyone on the internet can use. The idea is to replace centralized servers with the excess computing power of a decentralized community paid in value-stable cryptocurrency. Often described as the Airbnb of web hosting, Holo is charting a decentralized future for the hosting industry.

Few buzzwords are as loaded as “disruption.” Depending on your perspective, the term can evoke excitement or fear. Corporate giants often associate it with the latter, but for everyday consumers, disruption is typically advantageous.

Consider what Airbnb has done for the pocketbooks of travelers, what Tesla is doing for our planet (and beyond), and what Uber is doing to make taxis affordable. As technologies continue to advance, new disruptors will emerge across additional industries.

Holo, a cloud hosting platform for distributed applications, is one of those disruptors. The organization’s open-source community believes it’s no longer acceptable to allow our online communications to flow through centralized web servers where corporations control our experiences.

David Atkinson headshot and Holo logo

David Atkinson, Commercial Director, gave us the scoop on Holo, a decentralized hosting platform.

Instead, Holo is seeking to decentralize the internet, expanding its potential for collaboration and creativity. It’s an undertaking, for sure, but the Holo team believes it’s worth the wait. “The movement from a centralized to decentralized world will take a long time and require a lot of changes in buying habits,” said David Atkinson, Commercial Director at Holo.

Holo will encourage that change through the HoloPort, a device built for hosting apps that will be used by mainstream web users. “Having a box is one way of getting people who are kind of interested, but not so techie, to plug something in and participate in the economy,” David said. “They just want to be able to interact with the distributed world exactly as they interact with the web today.”

Through HoloPorts, as well as Holo software installed on existing devices, it will be possible to replace centralized servers with the spare computing power of a distributed community paid in value-stable cryptocurrency. Ultimately, the Holo ecosystem will empower anyone to become a host, contributing to a more decentralized future.

A Distributed Hosting Platform for Holochain Apps

The Holo ecosystem was founded in 2017 by Eric Harris-Braun and Arthur Brock, two digital visionaries with more than 18 years of combined experience building multicurrency systems. Before Holo, Eric created cross-platform peer-to-peer communication software, and Arthur had experience designing and deploying multicurrency software for the MetaCurrency Project.

David said the emergence of blockchain and Bitcoin piqued the interest of both Eric and Arthur. “They had been thinking about a different form of decentralization — different than the one that came about through blockchain — and they were also considering various forms of distributed currencies,” he said. “So they decided to create Holochain, an open-source distributed application framework.”

Holo, a cloud hosting market for distributed apps, was later built on Holochain. Rather than a decentralized global online database, like blockchain, Holochain is a structure for building fully distributed, peer-to-peer applications. While blockchain is data-centric, Holochain takes an agent-centric approach. And, because Holochain is not a global consensus-based system, it’s faster, more energy-efficient, and 10,000 times less costly than blockchain.

Holo makes apps built on Holochain accessible to everyday internet users who may feel uncomfortable using next-generation crypto software. It works by connecting our currently centralized web with the world of distributed Holochain apps through elements like web browsers so users can access Holochain apps in a familiar way.

Freeing the Internet from Corporate Control

It’s common for developers to instinctively reach out to well-known providers like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure to host their apps. Through Holo’s peer-to-peer app hosting marketplace, anyone with a Linux device can compete with tech giants by offering up the extra computing capacity on their desktop or laptop (Windows and Mac versions will be released at a later date).

The process works similarly to renting out a spare bedroom through Airbnb to help pay your mortgage. Through Holo, internet users may “rent” out their storage and processing power to pay for their own internet access, hosting, and machines.

Holo banner

The HoloPort will help replace centralized servers with distributed computing power.

According to David, there’s a lot of extra storage capacity waiting to be scooped up. Moving forward is simply a matter of soliciting user participation through items like the HoloPort. “Each core is effectively its own node, and the cores will be distributed around the world based on the people who choose to participate in the network,” David said. “You can create your own virtual node, but for most people we believe HoloPorts are an easier solution.”

Customers currently have the option to preorder the HoloPort Nano, HoloPort, and HoloPort+, which range in price based on processing power and storage. All devices come with software already installed and easy-to-follow setup instructions.

“We’re too early right now to know who, where, and why, people will take to this,” David said. “That’s one of the things I’m most interested to see — where in the community will people drive value from this kind of hosting, and where will they not? I’m sure there will be some surprises.”

Earn Value-Stable Cryptocurrency with HoloFuel

Holo doesn’t just enable hosts to turn their computer or HoloPort into a revenue source where they get paid for hosting distributed applications. It also gives them the freedom to set their own hosting prices and choose which apps to host.

As for payment, David said a significant challenge in building a distributed hosting network is determining how to pay contributors without a centralized authority. Thankfully, the organization found a solution in HoloFuel, an accounting system that allows Holo to process billions of transactions simultaneously.

“HoloFuel allows us to run peer-to-peer transactions or micropayments based on where the app was requested and from where the app was actually served,” David said. “And because HoloFuel is so efficient, we can process transactions for amounts as small as a penny.”

The system is based on a time-tested double-entry accounting method known as mutual credit, but it’s used with cryptography to secure, distribute, and extend the system’s capabilities. As the distributed network grows and demand increases, HoloFuel will be assigned greater value. The cryptocurrency can then be sold to others or used to pay for hosting.

As the platform evolves, users will be able to earn HoloFuel through additional avenues, such as extended credit and trading based on skills, services, and trust. They may also be able to purchase the cryptocurrency through Holo, as well as third-party and peer-to-peer exchanges.

Putting an Open, More Decentralized Future Within Reach

Holo is currently in a series of alpha stages. The platform’s future growth will be primarily dictated by the user community it serves. In the short term, all goals revolve around shipping the but the platform’s future growth will be primarily dictated by the user community it serves.

In the short term, all goals revolve around shipping the HoloPort and HoloPort+ to distributors across the globe, getting the network up and running in full beta mode, and building an ecosystem of applications. The HoloPort Nano will be delivered at a later date due to a custom chip configuration.

“From a product perspective, we’re focused on getting the boxes and software out,” David said. “We know there’s a big demand for it.”

David said he’s also eager to see what will come out of this innovative new hosting community.

“I’m also really looking forward to the day when someone builds something on Holochain and hosts it through this network that we would never have imagined is possible,” he said. “I envision a bunch of apps that users are running via web browsers – but they don’t even realize they’re using a completely distributed application that’s community validated, owned, and controlled.”

Christine Preusler

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