Introduction and purpose
There has been many articles written, FAQ’s created, Tweets sent and video presentations made about Holochain, what it is, what it can do and how it can change things.
But even with all the information out there it is still easy to either get lost in the translation or start to understand one part of it then find yourself forgetting where you were and before you know it your focus has shifted again.
It can be intriguing learning about Holochain but equally as frustrating and that is why I am creating this article, not because I think that I am able to explain it better than anyone else but my goal is to make it very basic but thorough and also include examples of Holo and Holochain in different scenarios that all of us understand and can relate to.
Some related reading, I suggest you come back to these if you like after this one
HOLO - Medium
Read writing from HOLO on Medium. Holo is a distributed peer-to-peer hosting platform for Holochain apps (hApps); a…
Arthur Brock - Medium
Read writing from Arthur Brock on Medium. Culture hacker, software architect, & targeted currencies geek... Building…
Holochain enables a distributed web with user autonomy built directly into its architecture and protocols. Data is…
Okay let’s get into it now
They are the same entity/creation of Arthur Brock and Eric Harris-Braun (The two Founders)but the difference is is that Holochain is the underlying technology and Holo is the attached company that will facilitate cloud web hosting.
What is Holo?
Holo is a marketplace and distributed hosting platform that allows Holochain app developers to have their applications and websites hosted by HoloHosts, thus making them available to everyday users of the Internet.
The best way to describe Holo in relatable terms would be:
It is like Airbnb or Uber but for cloud computing
It has an App store much like Google Play or the Apple Store
It is a hosting company much like Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud
So I will touch on each of those 3 briefly. When its said its “Like Airbnb or Uber”, that is exactly what it is, this cutting edge technology is the first of its kind in the world allowing anyone in the world to become a “Holo Host” and be paid for using the idle processing power in their computers.
This means regular people will be able to host from their PC’s or other devices simply by downloading the software, and they will be paid for partaking in this shared hosting.
App creators, developers, enterprise, retail, video, can all avail Holo hosting.
If you want to learn more about that please have a read of my article about how you can earn money.
How a Startup could be an income for the World
Everyone wants to find a way to supplement or create an income, especially now in the wake of Corona-virus.
To the second point applications created on Holochain will be known as hApps (h for Holochain) thus the name of the store is the hApp store.
And for the final point, and this is the biggest one what Holo hosting is doing will change the entire cloud computing ecosystem as we know it.
Big statement? Yes it is but for good reason, this has never been done before, period.
There has never been the technology created to allow for a shared and distributed cloud, nor has it ever been possible to host distributed applications directly to web pages which is what Holochain can do.
In the mainstream cloud business (which is currently growing exponentially due to corona-virus and will continue to do so) there are terms like “Distributed Cloud” or “Hybrid Cloud” both of which usually related to some on-premises infrastructure along with using a combination of some or all of their own resources or it can also mean different geolocations of server farms.
The words on that image may not seem to any kind of big deal, but let me show you a couple more random versions of the same thing, which all tend to quote Gartner.
So right now you are probably thinking yeah I get it, distributed cloud.
But the important thing I am trying to convey here is that even now as I pen this article, the world is not aware of Holochain for the most part, or Holo hosting, and every single reference to date that mentions “Distributed Cloud” involves current cloud providers with different types of hybrid setups, that all involve traditional data centers and providers, something Holochain isn’t and why it is the first and only truly distributed cloud.
They also speak of the geolcational advantages of having this distributed cloud (as they know it)the point I am also trying to make here is that this technology is so far advanced that it is not even yet on the radar of those in the industry.
They think “Distributed Cloud” because they are using hybrid versions and mixing and matching data centers and providers etc, that they are resolving the latency issues.
How is Holo Hosting going to be better than regular cloud?
If you read any of the above images they speak of Latency and they do so because the closer to the end-user the service is the less the latency.
Holo hosting solves this by allowing anyone with a HoloPort or any other connected device (your PC or Tablet etc) to host the Holochain cloud and be paid for it, so in reality once the word knows about Holochain the world can host itself, on Holochain and be paid for it.
Creating an entirely new economy of sharing and value adding across the globe.
As you can see from the graph above, the cloud backup or redundancy market alone is worth several billion dollars per year.
Because enterprise to small business cannot afford to have a central point of failure or allow for any of their precious data to be lost they are forced to spend these huge amounts of money to ensure there are sufficient copies stored and saved and regularly updated.
Holo hosting solves this and removes the cost entirely by default.
The way Holo hosting works is Developers/Clients/IT Professionals will deploy/hire/contract (think Airbnb & Uber again here) people like you and me as Holo Hosts all across the globe from the Holo hosting market based on their desired gelocations/bandwidth, up-time, storage space etc.
And what happens then is say there is 2000 hosts across the globe for 1 business application, all of the data is encrypted and distributed through a method known a sharding.
This means that even if a Hosts (or 10 hosts) device is hacked/compromised/stolen etc, nothing can be retrieved from it.
It could also be the case where you are hosting for 5 different people or entities and again sharding ensures the data is randomized but easily retrievable.
The way Holochain does this is through using several technologies but I won’t go into those now.
But to summarize “Cloud Backup”, Holochain has it by default and therefore obviates much of this multi billion dollar industry saving enterprise big dollars every year.
In an effort to keep this article from ballooning I will just list the other advantages here with only a small explanation.
Its also important to understand that Holo hosts can host for free if they like, and still take advantage of having their data shared by employees, friends and family etc.
Lets look at an example:
Imagine a small (or even large) bank is running on all of their systems on Holochain, these are very important and must be up 24/7, so with Holo hosting fragments of all of their data is duplicated across all of the branches computers.
If any one location goes down, the rest still have the data. Or if the entire internet goes down, all the computers in one branch still hold all the data so business still runs.
Once the network is restored, data is shared and updated until all branches have it again.
Holochain is also protocol agnostic, this means that devices can talk to each other and share information via Bluetooth, Ham radio, Cellular etc, so if one branch still has internet and the others don’t it can actually still send and update that data to other branch's without relying on the internet.
Okay, so we have covered Latency and Cloud Backup extensively next is outages and demand spikes.
Both of these problems occur regularly for even the biggest of the cloud providers, they then need to re-direct traffic to other large data centers across the globe, this still causes outages and downtime for many businesses and costs them real money.
The Holo hosting solution to this is related to what I just wrote about cloud backup, there can be thousands of hosts for any or many applications at any one time and the shear numbers and geolocations and sharding ensure that there is a regular up time and therefore you are less vulnerable to major outages or traffic spikes which can slow things up considerably.
What I have not explained to you yet is that similar to movie or music Torrents, Holo hosting operates in a way that the heavier the load it is put under, the faster it becomes. Think peers and seeds if you understand torrent jargon.
This is totally the opposite to traditional cloud computing companies, under heavier load they need to re-route traffic to different server farms, Holo hosting just adds more hosts as needed and the speed hypers into the next level.
When you have all of your data in one server or a centralized point that is not only a possible area of failure as I mentioned with cloud backups but it is also a vulnerability having one central attack vector.
Holochain for security uses Peer Validation, Gossip and Cryptographic Signatures for security along with its agent centric distributed hash table. (Will explain this more in the “Holochain” part of this article)
It should also be noted that Holo hosting will not only help green the planet with less giant data centers being built around the world but the cost of them is astronomical, and this cost is passed onto users by the big players, so again Holo hosting is a better alternative.
Pandemic proof, Holo hosting requires no big data centers, it doesn’t have to worry about staff not being able to attend because of a pandemic like we have now.
Quick recap on the advantages of Holo Hosting
Latency — Check
Outages — Check
Demand spikes — Check
Central attack vectors — Check
Cloud Backup — Check
Pandemic proof — Check
Saving billions on infrastructure-Check
Holo the Hosting company
The company Holo will facilitate hosting of applications and provide support to hosts.
Unlike Airbnb or Uber which take around 19% and 14% respectively from their associates Holo will take 1% or less per transaction. The way that payments are made is through an internal currency known as HoloFuel.
You will be able to purchase HoloFuel on Cryptocurrency markets or you can use your Credit Card to purchase from the Holo the company.
And Holofuel is how developers/clients will pay their hosts for hosting.
Holofuel earned by hosts can then be redeemed for cash from different currencies around the world.
Holofuel is designed to procession billions of micro-transactions very quickly and it is able to do so at lightning speed because like I mentioned earlier, like a torrent, it has infinite speed.
And another thing that it does differently is that regular compute & payment systems use sequential processing, HoloFuel uses Parallel processing, meaning millions of processes simultaneously.
Short closing summary of Holo
It allows anyone to be a cloud computing provider from their home or office without having any technical know how at all.
Anyone can download the software and become a Holo host and get paid for it and earn a continuous passive income.
The security of the hosted data cannot be accessed by any hosts or hackers as the data is protected through encryption and sharding and each host will only hold fragments of data for any particular application or storage.
Businesses if they so choose can self-host or even include it as an employee bonus as they will be paid.
If you want to host for free you can also do that, there will likely be charities that ask people to host to cover their expenses.
Holo hosts can talk to each other without having the need for an internet and can even create their own internet and be paid for it (More about this later).
Onto the next section, Holochain
You may want to read this later or take a break it is long because it needs to be in order to fully understand it.
Holochain is an open source framework for building fully distributed, peer-to-peer applications.
So lets break it down, but first a common question is:
What are the differences between Holochain and Holo?
As mentioned above, Holochain is a framework or architecture that allows many different types of applications or web services to run on it, it is open source which means anyone can build on it.
Holo is the company that will facilitate the hosting on Holochain and will build up services offered by Holo hosting over time.
It is important to know that an application or web service built on Holochain does NOT need to be hosted by Holo, entities can create their own applications and use the security and speed features of Holochain without having to host it on Holo hosting , they can use regular providers like AWS, Google cloud etc if they so choose. *Why pay more though?
But the reverse does not apply, non Holochain created applications cannot be hosted on Holo hosting.
Because Holochain has security security features built into it that ensure the sovereignty of data and as you will see below the Holochain software is built in a way that protects end users, anyone is free to use it as it is open source.
In plain English explain to me what Holochain is
The best way to describe it in simple terms is Holochain is like an open source, free to use Intranet which allows your to have all of your information stored upon it, and only those with access to that intranet can use or see the data.
So picture a pizza chain they are using Holochain and have 20 stores, all of those stores are connected and can speak to each other, validate information and warn each other if anyone attempts to enter their own private “web”, now picture 5 thousand different pizza shops all with their own private system only those within can see them, which is why its called “Agent Centric’ technology.
Further to that the “Intranet” talks to other devices whom have access to verify that they are allowed to be there, this is known as “Gossip”.
So like the example I used above for a bank or pizza shop, each one of those bank computers is constantly pinging each other randomly in the background to ensure that only those whom are allowed to access this data are doing so and any changes to the data that is made by anyone is also gossiped about between all of the devices randomly to ensure that it is a valid entry, once it is approved by the random validators the gossip, the other computers (Known as Peers) will all then store the latest and newest version of that entry.
This random gossip among peers is also encrypted and requires a cryptographic signature from those whom validated it and those whom altered, updated or deleted the data.
These conversations are completed in milliseconds across the entire group of approved computers. If a stranger or non approved computer attempted to introduce, delete or alter data it would be rejected by the random validators and blacklisted.
How does that all work?
Holochain uses what is known as a DHT or “Distributed Hash Table”, which means that in my example above I was calling it an “Intranet” what it actually is, is that each application or web service using Holochain (Hosted by Holo or not) is required under the rules of the software to follow the same validation processes.
An entry into the DHT is known as a hash-chain entry is cryptographically signed (multi-party actions, like transactions, are mutually countersigned).
Each user in this public or private chain of computers is known as an agent, which is where Holochain uses the term “Agent-Centric” .
Holochain’s approach to data-integrity is agent-centric, rather than data-centric, with each node (Device connected to your particular DHT) being like a cell that maintains its own state while remaining bound to the physical and biological constraints of the ecosystem in which it lives.
Agents have their own local, tamper-resistant hash-chains recording their actions, built upon hApp rules.
The “biological constraints” of a hApp are encoded in its validation rules — the DNA of the application. These rules are the only things nodes in a hApp needed to maintain global consensus. With these rules as the foundation, each user keeps an immutable record of their own actions on a local hash-chain, DNA being the first entry on the chain. Each tweet, vote on a poll, or currency transaction (depending on the hApp) would be an additional entry on the agent’s chain for that application.
Nodes can then share data with each other via a distributed hash-table (DHT), the same technology underlying BitTorrent’s peer-to-peer file sharing protocol. What’s different about Holochain’s DHT is that it also ensures that the shared data follows validation rules.
If a node is found to be propagating or validating bad data, that node is blocked and a warning is sent to others via gossip. This effectively blacklists bad actors from participating in the app.
Additional measures to defend against flooding the network with fake validators are customizable for each application. A messaging app may only need basic protections, such as using email verification, whereas a supply chain handling million-dollar transactions may require vouching from industry peers, an invitation code, and government ID verification to join the network.
Short summary of Holochain
Holochain is a highly secure framework for private and business uses.
It facilitates a secure method of communication and verification for any sized applications.
“Applications” doesn’t just mean an App you download, it is also referring to large industries, global networks and supply chains etc.
It is a new invention that will deliver much needed security protections for private and corporate and ensure that they maintain sovereignty over their data through the Holochain DNA.
Remember how I said earlier that Applications built on Holochain are only speaking to other apps or agents, those that are within the DHT?
With Holochain the way it works is that applications created on Holochain by default are invisible to other applications and regular internet users. It uses the internet hardware to connect a group of computers together to run a program or private type intranet. This is another of the security features.
This does not mean that all such creations are actually invisible, as you can see from the image below, Holo provides the connection to the HTTP world so your application or intranet or whatever, will run through browsers.
Any applications created by people for the public will be available on the Holo.Host hApp store for download, if the creator chooses them to be public.
But because Holochain is Open Source it could be used by third, 4th and 5th parties and they could run applications on them without Holochain even knowing.
That is how new and big this technology is, it has never been created before until now.
Holochain and Social Media Applications
Because of its ability to scale and its inherent speed, Holochain is perfect for most social media type applications.
A Holochain version of Tiktok, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram etc will run perfectly on Holochain and with Holo hosting these Apps (hApps) can save hundreds of millions of dollars per year through hosting costs.
While creators of hApps can set their own rules in the DNA of the application the agent-centric nature of Holochain allows for built-in privacy functions for the end users, because they will be able to control their own data.
For example there is currently a similar version of Medium currently being created on Holochain named Humm Earth and when you create your draft article, the data doesn’t live on the server of a multinational conglomerate as it does in all other cases but it stays on your device until you decide to send it or share it.
This is a perfect example of “Owning your data”. Any draft document I make does not need to sit on the servers of Amazon or Google when it can live on my device until I am ready to share it.
Newer social media in the future will likely keep users data integrity in mind and although some don’t mind having their browsing habits read by these big companies and subsequently governments, there will be a shift towards more privacy or data integral options.
I think personally that the current format of social media will just simply co-exist with a newer version and people will then have the best of both worlds.
For example Humm Earth allows you to import all of your Medium articles onto their website, so in essence you can keep your public image at one area but manage it in another. By that I mean I think there will be a lot of new type social media sites that give you the option to import all of your work, stories, photos, events etc and still maintain that public side of you but also allow you to form new connections and experiences with friends and family where you know only they or the people you choose to allow access to your data can do see it.
When it comes to messaging type social media there is usually less of a public footprint of users but still there will be new options appearing with Holochain that allow a further degree of privacy.
Examples of how Holochain will enter the world and what it can do
Out of all of the people on social media that I interact with I think this is an area where there is a lack of information provided about Holochain and real world use which also then causes a lack of understanding of the benefits of both Holo and Holochain.
We have already covered the immense benefits of using Holo hosting compared to the regular cloud providers so here I will lay out some scenarios where Holochain is the perfect fit for both small developers and enterprise clients.
Network Security as an Intranet
Holochain is the perfect architecture for large businesses or SME’s to use as an intranet.
We covered how Holochain is transport protocol agnostic and the benefits of networked computers still being able to talk to each other and operate even if the internet is down and that is a big deal.
But even better thing about Holochain is that by default, unless you create an application for public consumption and add it to the hApp store and or publish it directly to a HTTP website, no one will even know it exists.
Because Holochain connects devices (DHT) and only those devices within the DHT can talk to each other, that means any Intranet created is not visible to the public, and you cant hack something if you don’t know it exists.
Holochain also has the ability to run your private network while at the same time running a parallel public network so industry can have both front end and back end systems running in unison, or if you so choose you can run two instances one of public, one of private.
Hosting information for every major corporation is available to the public!
This may come as a surprise to many of you but with today’s technology, a few mouse clicks can tell me who you use for cloud hosting, your sub-domains and all other services with a high degree of accuracy.
And this information is available for FREE to anyone who wants to look for it. If you have read this article and work for a major corporation when you are next at the office ask your IT guy or the CEO if he is aware of this. I bet many of them will be shocked.
As you can see these large data centers all push out a lot of personal business information and also give hackers and area to look for any vulnerabilities.
With Holochain as I said before, it is a method of using the internet to connect a group of computers together from anywhere in the world and this can be done with or without Holo Hosting.
The analytics that Intricately is able to gather on these data centers will not be possible when your company has several hundred or thousand people across the globe hosting encrypted small parts of the bigger picture.
They may eventually work out that your company is using Holo Hosting, but they will not be able to gauge the spend nor the amount of data held as it is dynamic and shifting across multiple locations in small encrypted packages.
Some examples of Holochain software being used
This comes up quite a bit when you talk to people about Holochain, and the ironic thing is its both from people like myself who understands the scope of Holochain and also those that don’t.
I say it’s ironic because the more I learn about it the more I learn it can and will do to the tech world. It has the features in it, not even including the fact that it is an entirely new technology with the worlds first distributed cloud, on top of that, its DNA that I mentioned earlier means there are unlimited use cases for it.
The next article pt 2 of this one will go in depth into that.
But for now lets look at just one of them, IOT.
Okay so for those of you who are not aware IOT or IoT stands for “Internet of things” Ericsson IOT forecast report predicts that there will be around 29 billion connected devices by 2022–18 million of which will be IoT-related.
IOT devices touch our lives daily and most of the time some may not even be aware that it is. Your smartphone, wearable tech, motor vehicles, manufacturing, health records, home automation, remote monitoring, Agriculture, from enterprise to small business, we all use IOT in one way or another every single day.
So how does Holochain fit into this? The brief explanation image below shows you some of the parts that form IOT.
One of the biggest issues facing IOT is security. And this is where Holochain has already started playing a part.
Recently research scientists conducted an independent study of Holochain (Using an older version) and compared it to a couple of other technologies.
What I want you to try and understand as best as possible is that all of these IOT devices are usually connected to the cloud.
For example if you have security cameras at your home or business, they are IOT devices that need to transmit information across the cloud and it is in these instances where IOT can be seen as vulnerable to attack.
Without having to semi-quote the entire article I will give you a summary.
Basically some computer scientists used Holochain for three things during their tests for ensuring the IOT devices over the cloud could not be compromised and this included Preserving log integrity, privacy and provenance trust admissibility via Holochain as a distributed network.
As a technology, Holochain is very lightweight, so because some IOT devices are power deprived and have varied roles, so think about the actuators or controllers mentioned above. For the tests these scientists used Holochain was able to Create Log Chains of plug and process load (PPL) energy usage and this was shared in Distributed Hash Tables (DHTs) on Holochain.
The significance of this goes back to Holochain’s DNA, where its security enforces peer validation, gossip and cryptographic signatures to maintain a high level of security and it is able to do this faster than anything else because it is agent centric and these random validators both keep out invalid attempts to propagate information and also ensure that only true information is shared.
The other advantage of using Holochain for these (Min-Logs) is that it can turn from something very small into a gigantic store of information because of the ability Holochain has to scale which most technologies do not posses.
Remember as you start to feel a little bored with this, this is the first open source technology that happens to be its own Decentralized Cloud network as well, so there has never been a technology able to do this until now.
Some further poignant comments about the use of Holochain in IOT by the scientists.
I am paraphrasing a little but you can read the entire document for yourself if you so choose.
The scientists go on to say for log data preservation to ensure log integrity, privacy, and peer-to-peer data sharing via Holochain.
Holochain is used for secure and scalable log preservation schemes which establish the peer-to-peer network communication of all Holochain nodes distributed among fog worker nodes. The following sections describe the Holochain technology and different operations executed by Holochain at fog worker node.
This effectively allows for an update to conventional double accounting with the use of cryptographic signatures as accounts are linked to unchanging chains. Each node manages its local transaction chain in this double-entry accounting system instead of a global coins leader as in Blockchain.
Holochain offers an agent-centric and relativistic environment to create the underlying validity of data. Holochain guarantees data integrity for distributed applications by carefully collecting data from the local immutable chain of each fog node. This effectively allows for an update to conventional double accounting with the use of cryptographic signatures as accounts are linked to unchanging chains. Each node manages its local transaction chain in this double-entry accounting system instead of a global coins leader as in Blockchain.
Holochain does not waste computing power as it is wasted in Blockchain because it is not dependent on some kind of global leader consensus. Moreover, Holochain is not dependent on the references to the proof-of-work, the proof-of-stake, or leading selection algorithms to ensure the data integrity for peer-to-peer applications.
This means that each balance of a fog worker node is stored on its chain, and when two fog worker nodes are transacted, they only have to test the background of their counter-party to make sure that they have credits. Third-party authorization or consensus is not needed in this case.
To finalize this section what these scientists are saying in a big nutshell is that Holochain is being used to not only keep the data logs of IOT devices safe but it is also ensuring that they have not been tampered with as if they use the ISP logs these are subject to manipulation and the attacker may remove or add logs that hinder the discovery of their presence at all.
If you think about that scenario, its not only IOT devices that can benefit from having secure log preservation schemes that provide verifiable, integrity intact logs which are lightweight and have unlimited scaling abilities.
This technology can be used by many different organisations and or software that requires data-integrity for their logs serviced through an enclosed carrier.
So it makes sense that not only IOT will use this new technology in the future, it has the potential to be used worldwide on a massive scale and that is just for log-data alone, it is capable of much more than this, I will explain in part 2 of this document.
I hope that this information has been able to provide you with a clear picture of what Holo hosting is, the differences between Holo and Holochain and also some of the unique features of Holochain.
In part two of this article we will cover the potentials and examples of Holochain running mostly on back-end services but also some direct to the public services too such as currencies.
Please see the list below and if you would like to add a topic please leave it in the comments.
Banking and Finance
Interoperable apps inc public and private networks
Storage and IPFS
Encryption & Security
Web Design & Hosting
Part 2 coming soon.