Golem Network 2018 Progress Report

It’s been a pretty wild few weeks for the cryptocurrency market, which has been buffeted by an onslaught of sell orders that harken back to the distant days of 2017 and 2013.

However, it’s nothing new for the market; this is the kind of trope that even mildly experienced investors are well aware of, like a plot twist in a television show that can be predicted 5 minutes into the episode.

Some investors are looking at the upside of the dip, seeing it as a chance for the market to purge itself of the enormous number of purposeless altcoins.

Projects are bleeding funds and selling their tokens to keep themselves afloat, and now more than ever we come to understand that the project with strong fundamentals will succeed — as opposed to those with disingenuous marketing tactics.

Few teams embody the idea of keeping their noses to the grindstone through thick and thin as much as Golem Network, which has eschewed flashy updates in favor of prosaic deliberations on its progress and the challenges of its goal, which is to create a decentralized supercomputing system — one of blockchain’s most touted applications.

This is what we’re going to take a look at here: the progress that the Golem Network project has made in the transitional year that is 2018, and what the future holds for it.

Milestones Achieved

Golem’s ambitious goal to become the “Airbnb for computers” is tempered with restraint and a strong work ethic, reflected in their structured approach to building their platform.

The project’s roadmap is divided into several phases, named after the mythical Jewish creature Golem, with these phases incrementally adding features and use cases to the platform.

2018 has been successful in several regards for Golem, as the team has made progress in laying the foundations for the platform to become the go-to source for outsourced computation. They may be some way away from offering the world a viable alternative to the cloud computing services of Microsoft and Amazon, but nonetheless, they have taken the first steps towards building the infrastructure.

Broadly, Golem’s approach to platform development tackles the following issues: use cases, features security, performance, and UI/UX. While they do have their sights on marketing, and toolkits for developers and companies, the core focus currently lies on the aforementioned challenges.  

Golem Brass Beta Launches to Mainnet

Their launch onto the mainnet back in April was without a doubt Golem’s highlight of the year, a validation of the efforts they’ve made into creating the product.

The version of the platform that launched onto the mainnet, Brass Beta, was not initially planned for a mainnet launch, but the team deemed it necessary to take the platform to a real-world use scenario for a sense of how it would perform under stress.

The platform is technically completely operational — so far as the one use case of CGI rendering is concerned.

Brass was a robust enough platform to be released on the mainnet, so users could actually transact with real GNT and ETH tokens to pay for and earn from outsourced computation. With the basic UI and features in place, Golem has taken their idea out of the Proof-of Concept stage and into something tangible.

Brass Beta is but one step in Golem’s plan to build a comprehensive platform. While the team has grand visions for future phases of the project, Brass continues to require support from the team, and is subject to continual improvements and the incremental addition of features. Concent, which we discuss below, will be one of these major features.

Brass should be seen as an evolutionary step towards Clay Golem, which is expected sometime in Q1 2019.

Graphene-ng

Graphene-ng is an extremely important part of Golem’s roadmap, as it protects requestors’ data from being modified by potential attackers. If Golem is to scale and deal with many clients across the world, it is inevitable that sensitive data will be passed on for processing.

Security and privacy then become pivotal, and Graphene is the answer to this issue.

Graphene is closely tied with Intel’s Software Guard Extension (SGX), a new application layer that enhances security of data. Golem’s integration with SGX is intended with the security of the computational data in mind. Intel’s hardware solution to data security means that requestors needn’t worry about malicious attackers attempting to access the data in outsourced computation.

However, currently SGX cannot be decentralized, which brings some challenges to one of Golem Network’s most salient features. The team’s leads on this sub-project have called for further deliberation and study into this matter.

The Golem team presented Graphene-ng at Ethereum’s flagship event, Devcon.

You can view the demo below:

A Peek into Concent

Concent is another major development that only recently formed Golem’s vision. The Concent service is an optional security feature that resolves transaction disputes between renters and providers. Both of the parties will have to agree to use the Concent service beforehand and deposit some GNT as collateral for the service.

However, Concent is still in the Research and Development stage, so it may be some time before we see it deployed for all users. There are several tasks to be completed before this reaches the public, including performance, security, and UX improvements, as well as the offering of background GPU mining.

Concent has been in the team’s sights for over a year, and is one of their priorities. Once the team has developed the mechanism for payments in case of disputes and designed the UX, Concent will undergo an audit.

This too looks a little while away, but it’s one of the major features of the platform that is next in line to arrive, and its arrival will mark yet another milestone for the team.

Golem Unlimited Demo

To support large-scale computational processing within a trusted environment — trusted being the keyword — which could be very well suited for businesses that want to make use of an affordable decentralized computing network, the team is developing “Golem Unlimited,” which is a trusted environment for pools of nodes that can act according to their own internal policy.

Work on Golem Unlimited seems to be moving with some efficiency, as it was only a few weeks between announcement and the first demonstration of the effort, which can be viewed below:

Unlimited is clearly a way for the project to breach the enterprise space and widen the user base of the platform.

To help developers integrate the service with existing architecture, an SDK will be released for seamless setup and deployment, accompanied by documentation, APIs and tools. The service will also be available for all Operating Systems. The team has made the Golem Unlimited code open source, so you can take a look at it yourself.

All this said, there’s quite a bit of of work to be done before we get a working release: developer tools still have to be developed, and several other features have yet to begin development, including integration with the Brass and Clay phase.

Where Does the Golem Network Stand and What Will 2019 Bring?

The team’s latest update came in November in the form of a blog post,it  and covers their experience preparing the demo for Graphene-ng.

Communication remains a little infrequent, though what we get is substantial and direct.

The team’s most recent Reddit AMA, hosted on November 14, answers doubts regarding the project’s marketing intentions. Affirming their desire to focus on technical improvements, the team indicated that the early nature of the product compels them to refine the platform before they can launch a wide-scale marketing campaign.  

Golem Will Enter Its Second Phase, Clay Golem

What we do know, though, is that 2019 will bring the next phase for the platform.

It has been confirmed that the new features — such as Concent, Golem Unlimited, Graphene-ng, and more use cases — that will make up Clay Golem will be introduced on a rolling basis, rather than in a single, large-scale update. This will both give the team the opportunity to test and refine features on the mainnet, and users the ability to make use of some of the more significant features as and when they arrive.

The upside of this is that users will be able to interact with the platform as it evolves. The downside is that they may experience bugs and performance issues.

On the whole, however, users will at least be able to work with a semi-live platform. Those keen on this particular application of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) — and those with spare computing power — will be able to gain something out of the interaction and offer their feedback on Golem’s active communication channels.

Graphene, Concent, Marketplace, and More

There’s much left to achieve in Golem’s extensive roadmap. 2019 will be a monumental year for the project that showcases the platform’s ability to operate across a range of use cases, including machine learning, which is next up in use case development.

2018 has definitely been a year of transition for the project, which has laid down some of the fundamental features for the platform to begin more extensive operation.

What we can expect in 2019 — without any definite dates — is that Graphene-ng, Concent, and Golem Unlimited will appear in some usable form. Concent is likely to be the first to arrive, given its importance to all users. The team has also answered calls from the community to update its roadmap. However, the team has been confirmed that this will happen only in 2019.

A marketplace has also been announced, though it appears mostly a concept at this point, and it seems likely that this will arrive after the aforementioned features.

Final Thoughts

Judging if a project has met its expectations or not is a difficult question to answer, particularly in a new field where challenges are encountered on a regular basis.

Golem’s goals are a step beyond most projects, simultaneously seeking to challenge centralized cloud computing services like Microsoft and Amazon, and design a new kind of internet. There will be stiff competition from existing entities, and several complexities as the team implements their solutions.

2019 is fast approaching, and it is unlikely that the Golem Network team, with their measured approach, will bring in any further major accomplishments before the year’s end.

On the whole, the team has not chalked out a detailed plan for 2019, choosing instead to focus on their current priorities and take that into 2019. Hopefully, we’ll see the arrival of one or two of these major features in Q1 2019.

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