Is Decentralized Internet the Next Big Thing in the Internet World?

Reasons for Successful Mass Adoption of Internet

The success and mass adoption of the Internet can be credited to the following 5 important developments-

1. TCP/IP

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) refers to the standard set of data communication protocols that are used on the Internet. It was developed by the DARPA and is now a de-facto standard for the Internet. It is maintained by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). It is because of these protocols, that now we can use the e-mails, file transferring, newsgroups, web pages, etc. This behaves like a common language that is used by the computers to communicate with one another along the network.

2. WWW & HTML

At the time of its inception, it was used as a system for allowing the documents to be linked to other nodes. This marked the beginning of hypertext, which refers to the links stored on the computers present in the network. Now, the users need no longer to know about the exact location or the system name for accessing the resources through the means of HTML hyperlinks. A website provides these links that can be clicked and this whole linked system is known as the World Wide Web (WWW).

3. Web Browsers

The earliest developments of a web-browser took place in the year 1993 with Mosaic. Before the emergence of browsers, a software known as Gopher used to provide access to the websites. This was tedious and not at all user-friendly. More robust features evolved for the time and new-generation browsers such as Mozilla and Netscape.

4. Search Engines

Previously searching was done using Gopher. It became less popular when browser-based search engines and other web-based systems like Lycos, Yahoo, and Webcrawler evolved. Google broke into search engine scenario in the late 1990s and today is the most popular search engine on the Internet. It is simple and fast, offering users the best way to gain information on the Internet. In today’s time, the term “Google” is being synonymously used with searching on the Internet.

5. Internet Service Providers

Early days of the Internet used to have a dial-up modem connected to a telephone line offering data speeds of 14.4-28.8 kbps and it was sufficient to meet data demands of the late 80s and early 90s. In this period, the Internet was mostly text-based. The Internet grew more popular and businesses started adopting it, thus, the need for faster data speeds emerged. This led to Internet Service Providers (ISP) with the initiation of AOL bundling services by mailing a free-CD software for encouraging users to sign-up. This was the reason for initiating the process of getting an e-mail address coupled with a free hour of Internet usage.

The ISP continued to improve its service by offering faster DSL and ADSL services as an alternate to dial-ups. DSL service offered Internet speeds up to 128 kbps. Cable companies provided even faster Internet speeds using cable modems known as the broadband services. This infrastructure was built by telecom companies and cable TV giants to offer faster speeds allowing users to stream video, chat, browse active content present on the web and also download at faster rates.

Centralized Internet

In the case of a centralized Internet network, there is a centralized point and it can be a server through which all the data present in the network must pass through before distribution takes place between various computers or devices. Earlier, the Internet used to operate as a standalone network that connected different people and organizations. Earlier, the information used to pass-through a central point such as a server, but nowadays there are small chunks of networks present in the larger network. These smaller networks can be groups of people or corporations that work on unique data sets.

Thus, irrespective of the number of groups, all the data accessed all over the world is stored in centralized hardware.

Drawback of Centralized Internet

Security and privacy concerns are inter-related terms with centralized Internet connections. A significant number of Internet companies own the datacenters that they use for storing data of the people and run applications accordingly. Such kind of data centers continue to face threats of hack attacks from malicious attackers, provided that they store all necessary information at a single place, where the attackers can access the data with ease and use it for committing other sorts of cybercrimes.

How Is Centralized Internet a Threat?

Services of the centralized Internet are not classified and regulated like public services. Thus, for most of the companies hold a free had to define, interpret and enforce their rules by having a little intervention from the government. Also, a large number of users and customers of these services are located outside their jurisdiction and are completely subjected to different rules.

What Makes Decentralized Web Different?

There are two major differences in which the Decentralized Web differs from the World Wide Web in terms of its working. Firstly, in a Decentralized Web, there exists peer-to-peer connectivity where the computer not only requests services but also provides them. The second difference that the Decentralized Web has, is in terms of the method in which the information is stored and retrieved. Today, http and https links are used for identifying information on the web and these links point to the content by their location. But, in the case of Decentralized Web protocols use links for identifying information based on its content, emphasizing more on what the content is rather than where the content is. This content-based approach makes it possible for the websites and files to be stored and passed around in several ways from computer to computer instead of relying on a single server as the point of contact for exchanging information.

Decentralized Internet and Hosting

The Decentralized Web or Web 3.0 refers to a trend of building the hosting services which don’t depend on a central organization, that holds a monopoly over others. The Decentralized Internet connection relies on a peer-to-peer network that is built on a community of users wherein no single entity is ever in control. Here, various Internet devices behave as host of the Internet, rather than a group of servers, i.e. a website is spread across several nodes, thereby eliminating the possibility of a single server to act as the single custodian of a particular data subset.

The core idea that lies behind the decentralization of hosting services is the operation of hosting-related services will not belong to a single powerful company that has a monopoly in the industry. In this case, the responsibility of hosting will be shared either by having multiple servers or running the servers across the client apps by the use of a peer-to-peer distribution model.

Comparison of Centralized and Decentralized Networks

Comparison ParameterCentralized Internet NetworkDecentralized Internet Network
   
Data FlowIn case of a Centralized Internet Network, the data has to flow through a Central Point, known as ServerHere, the data flows through various point without any specific point where it needs to pass before granting the access
Data Communication FlowThe flow of data communication is mostly verticalThe data communication flow in this case is always open and free
Decision MakingThe responsibility of making decision lies with the central point, which can be single serverThere are several points that hold the decision-making capabilities
User AdoptionThere is a mass user adoption of the Centralized Internet connectionsDecentralized Internet connections still lies in the early phases for its adoption
Privacy and Data SecurityPrivacy is an issue as the agencies and government can track the flow of information and dataDecentralized Internet connections are known for their data security as well as privacy
Risk of FailuresThe Centralized Internet connections are subjected to a single point of failureDecentralized Internet Connections involve a variety of access points or nodes through which data passes, averting the risks of single point failure

 

Differences Between Centralized and Decentralized Internet

Following are the key points on which the Decentralized Internet is different from the Centralized Internet-

  1. Data Tracking

In case of a Centralized Internet Connection, it becomes easy to track the data that flows from one place to another provided the information passes through a single point (servers).

On the contrary with the Decentralized Internet, the tracking of data flow is not possible as several devices behave as nodes for data storage. In this case, an individual can access given information set from several locations rather than a single central point.

  1. Privacy Protection

Unlike Centralized Networks, the Decentralized Networks can offer a certain high degree of privacy which the people need to yearn for in today’s digital world. As the information passes through a number of points, it becomes impossible for entities and governments to maintain track of an individual’s online activities.

Decentralized networks are best suited for people who wish to keep their privacy and also protect their identity irrespective of their online activities.

  • Single Point Failures

The Centralized Internet connections lie at the risk of single-point failure, provided the data passes through a single point before dissemination. Based on the backup system being implemented, the failure of server hosting could result in huge volumes of data loss, making it difficult for people to access the data at a given instance of time.

On the contrary, in the case of the Decentralized Internet connections, failure of a single access point never makes it impossible for people to access the data present in the network. The presence of several nodes makes it possible for the people to access the information and reduce the risk of people being unable to access the data regardless of the issues.

  1. Limited Scalability

Limited scalability is another disadvantage that the Centralized Networks have as all the core applications are situated in single server machines. The addition of more storage and bandwidth along with processing power needs to be accounted for with the increased demand for Internet connections.

The architecture of Decentralized Networks allows the distribution of workloads over several computers rather than limiting it to one place. Here, a system is ‘scaled’ by adding more nodes to provide more computing power along with more fault tolerance.

  1. Data Censorship and Net Neutrality

Centralized Internet connections have given a lot of disadvantages to the end consumers. For instance, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) allow them to regulate the kind of data and the speed at which the information is accessed by the people. The ISPs these days don’t treat every kind of data in the same way. Those who are willing to pay more, enjoy a better Internet connection with respect to the ones who’re paying less.

Decentralized Internet holds a huge potential for addressing some of the shortcomings that have been faced by the Centralized Internet connections. It solves the privacy concerns ensuring the data security. Decentralized Internet has a better chance to revolutionize the Internet domain and such kind of connections would also be benefiting the end consumer, breaking the status quo when it comes to handling data by the companies.


About The Author

Rishabh Sinha joined ESDS after completing his MBA in Marketing from NMIMS. He is passionate about writing articles on latest technological trends such as Big Data, VR, IoT, AI.
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