Technology

The Paradigm Shift to Cloudless Computing – O’Reilly


TLDR:

  • Cloudless apps use protocols instead of centralized services, making them easily portable. (Imagine application storage and compute as unstoppable as blockchain, but faster and cheaper than the cloud.)
  • Cloudless is tractable now that enough people are familiar with cryptographic signing, and key-handling infrastructure has become part of the browser.
  • Upgrading the current status quo usage of bearer tokens to include signatures from client device keys enables more than security, it also opens the path to enterprise cost savings and radically new business models.
  • Cost savings come from moving compute to the data, and commuting multiple operations (including permission checks) to avoid proxy copying. This is all enabled because data and operations are cryptographically verifiable.
  • New business models include hobbyist apps going viral without incurring costs to the developer, as well as new ways to provision pay-per-use services.
  • Timeline—cloudless is ready to become mainstream in the next builder-driven cycle.

Paradigm Waves

Paradigm shifts in computing are as regular as waves on a beach, it’s hard to see where they came from and even harder to see where they are going. We have seen shifts from mainframe computers to personal computers, and from servers to the cloud. Each shift presented new challenges and opportunities, shaping the way we interact with technology. The most recent large-scale shift was from servers to the cloud, driven by an acknowledgment that using commodity servers run by experts is a better choice for most businesses. Serverless APIs are the culmination of the cloud commoditizing the old hardware-based paradigm. The same process of commoditization that gave rise to the cloud will also bring about the next paradigm, creating a new wave of abstractions and a rising tide for tomorrow’s applications.

“Make yourself a monopoly by growing the markets around you … Smart companies try to commoditize their products’ complements.”
Joel Spolsky


Learn faster. Dig deeper. See farther.

This iconic Joel Spolsky quote is a testament to his deep understanding of the technology industry and its market dynamics. Spolsky, a renowned software engineer and entrepreneur, co-founded Fog Creek Software, Stack Overflow, and Trello. With years of experience in the field, he has developed keen insights into business strategies and the importance of commoditization in the tech sector. His quote emphasizes the need for companies to create monopolies by commoditizing complementary products, which has proven to be a successful approach for many businesses. This means making the hardware supply chain into a commodity if you make PCs, making PCs into commodities if you sell operating systems, and making servers a commodity by promoting serverless function execution if you sell cloud. What goes around comes around as the cloud becomes the next commodity, and the independent crew of cloudless innovators, the next monopoly breakers.

From the cloud to the network

The new paradigm shift is from the cloud to the protocol network. Protocol networks are groups of loosely affiliated enterprises that provide globally available services like ledger, compute, and storage. Just as serverless is the culmination of the cloud, this move to protocol networks will culminate in cloudless APIs, leading to applications driven by protocols with incentives and capabilities that go beyond what the cloud’s location-based paradigm can offer. They run on any cloud or other data-center and reward service providers through fees they collect from users.

The new paradigm shift is from the cloud to the protocol network. Protocol networks are groups of loosely affiliated enterprises that provide globally available services like ledger, compute, and storage. Just as serverless is the culmination of the cloud, this move to protocol networks will culminate in cloudless APIs, leading to applications driven by protocols with incentives and capabilities that go beyond what the cloud’s location-based paradigm can offer. They run on any cloud or other data-center and reward service providers through fees they collect from users.

We call this new paradigm of network protocol based infrastructure cloudless. Its benefits include cost and security improvements as well as lower cognitive overhead and operational burden for developers, users, operators, and enterprises stemming from its location-independence and cryptographic verifiability. This is a technical consequence of content addressing, the hash based identifier system widely used in storage networks and leveraged by peer-to-peer networks for global addressability. We’ll discuss the technical underpinnings of cloudless later in this article.

As the cloud becomes commoditized and more developers, businesses, and users become aware of Cloudless computing’s advantages, such as increased data privacy, greater resilience, and lower costs, there will likely be a stronger inclination to embrace these new platforms. The move to more abstract APIs has an element of structural inevitability. As protocol networks emerge and gain traction, we can anticipate a phase change in the technological landscape, akin to the formation of a solid crystal structure from a less stable liquid state. The availability of these new networks serves as a catalyst for change, driving a more rapid transition from cloud-based systems to cloudless computing.

Most consumer-facing apps have not been written in a location-independent way thus far, primarily because the required infrastructure was not yet available to realize the benefits. However, with the advent of Cloudless protocols, we are witnessing a new wave of applications that harness the potential of these technologies. Early adopters have focused on smart contracts and decentralized apps (dApps), but the next wave is much more extensive, encompassing social applications, provable AI execution and training data provenance, big data processing like transcode or map-reduce, and asset delivery for gaming, metaverse, and media. These use cases exemplify the transformative nature of cloudless computing, showcasing its potential to revolutionize various industries and redefine the way we interact with technology.

Cost Savings and New Business Models

BENEFITS OF CLOUDLESS COMPUTING

  • Democratization of app development: Cloudless computing enables beginners and small teams to create and scale applications without incurring centralized costs, fostering a more diverse range of voices and perspectives.
  • User-driven cryptographic identity: Allows users to grant new apps access to their data, resulting in novel and innovative applications.
  • Data DAOs for long-term storage: Facilitate the sponsorship of content storage for the apps they represent, benefiting archives and long-term storage institutions.
  • Cacheability and time savings: Automated data provenance tracking and verification lead to increased efficiency for data scientists and research workloads.
  • Decentralized hosting and resource management: Overcome resource limitations and handle computational loads more effectively, enabling compute at the edge and reducing data transfers.
  • Competitive market for computing infrastructure: Cryptographic verifiability and trust create a competitive market for enterprises, leading to lower costs and more robust applications.
  • Resilience and trust through cloudless protocols: Location-independent links to data and compute enable new applications and business models, enhancing the interconnectedness and efficiency of the computing landscape.

The democratizing effects of the cloudless paradigm are poised to revolutionize the future of applications. For instance, even beginners can create applications that go viral without incurring centralized costs. Imagine crafting a social media app (or remixing an existing one), sharing it with friends, and witnessing it go viral—all without having to pay a bill. Cloudless computing reduces cognitive overhead for developers, users, operators, and enterprises, leading to more cost-effective solutions.

Without the need for apps to pay a centralized hosting bill, we can expect to see a broader range of voices and perspectives represented. The user-driven nature of cryptographic identity makes it easier to write new apps using existing data sets, as users can easily grant innovative new chat apps or photo galleries access to their data. This will lead to the development of novel applications we can’t even imagine yet. Data DAOs can sponsor the storage of content for the apps they represent. This is a great option for archives and other long-term storage institutions.

With cloudless computing, the inherent cacheability allows for time savings and increased focus on problem-solving. This cacheability goes beyond peer-to-peer and into the foundations of computing. Automated data analysis workloads, in the research world and commercially, are heavy users of shared data and reusable computing, and have the most to gain from automatic data provenance tracking and verification. Data scientists coding in notebooks like Databricks frequently rerun the same transformations on source data. Cacheability is part of what helped leading database vendor Snowflake dominate the market, and now, with cloudless, microservices can be upgraded to use verifiable data and deterministic computing, leveraging cache liveness provided by the protocol network.

Decentralized hosting costs and management enable developers to overcome resource limitations and handle computational loads more effectively. Protocol nodes can be placed in retail locations or edge sensors, allowing for compute to be performed over data at rest at the edge. This eliminates the need for unnecessary data transfers and enables faster, more efficient querying of data. As cryptographic verifiability makes trust more fungible, enterprises will be able to run their businesses on a competitive market of computing infrastructure and specialized algorithm vendors, resulting in lower costs and more robust applications.

Cryptographic identity, verifiable data, and deterministic computing make cloudless apps possible. With location-independent links to data and compute, anyone can access data and execute functions anywhere. By making intelligent use of today’s existing cloud providers and network infrastructure, Cloudless protocols add a layer of resilience and trust, enabling new applications and business models, and paving the way for a more interconnected and efficient computing landscape.

Commoditizing the Cloud: How is Cloudless Possible?

Cloudless computing is built upon the principles of decentralization, collaboration, and shared innovation, and its success is dependent on embracing open source and open standards. This approach ensures that the underlying technologies can be continuously improved, adapted, and maintained by a diverse community of stakeholders, eliminating the risk of vendor lock-in, promoting interoperability, and enabling a more resilient and flexible infrastructure. Cloudless computing offers several advantages over serverless cloud computing, such as cost savings, increased choice for developers, and the potential for new business models centered on app and data ownership. These benefits are made possible by the core foundations of cloudless computing: cryptographic identity, verifiable data, and deterministic compute. In the following sections, we will delve into the features that make cloudless apps possible.

Cryptographic Identity

Cryptographic identity is fundamental to cloudless computing. It addresses the identity problem and its challenges by leveraging the increasing familiarity with private keys, signing transactions, and verifying hashes. Recent advancements in user experience, such as TouchID/FaceID and secure enclave, have made cryptographic key pairs more accessible to average users, setting the stage for the next generation of applications that take advantage of cryptographic guarantees. The operating system and browser vendors offer password management products that many people are familiar with. Cloudless capability delegation feels a lot like a password manager, only instead of passwords it uses secure signatures, reducing the risk of leaks and hacking.

In this self-sovereign model, users control their own crypto keyrings, granting them greater visibility and authority over their data and online interactions. This eliminates the need for reliance on centralized service providers and prevents lock-in. Access to accounts is maintained by delegating capabilities to other cryptographic actors, such as other devices or account recovery services.

In other words, “No lockouts/no lock-in.”

Verifiable Data

Verifiable data enables the storage and retrieval of data that is independently verifiable and authenticated using cryptographic techniques. The peer-to-peer web protocol, IPFS (InterPlanetary File System), for example, uses hash-based Content Identifiers (CIDs) to ensure data integrity and authenticity. These CIDs allow data to be fetched from any location, using location-independent URIs, and provide a layer of safety that systems relying on location-based addresses (like URLs) cannot offer. Because hash-based identifiers are deterministically and uniquely derived from the content they reference, they are unforgeable and tamper-proof, providing the robust foundation for cloudless applications like smart contracts, distributed identity, storage, and compute.

Applications that use verifiable data can benefit from improved security, lower computing costs, and better performance. Global addressability means CIDs enable data to migrate to the most appropriate provider without any loss of trust, and the immutable nature of these addresses allows for efficient caching and acceleration.

Deterministic Compute

Deterministic computing allows for consistent and predictable computations, regardless of data location or infrastructure. It requires a container runtime or execution environment, a way to address data consistently (such as with CIDs), and a secure and verifiable method to invoke the computation.

The benefits of deterministic computing include faster second runs, cost-effective and performant location selection, workload sharing and reuse, edge computing for reduced network costs and improved performance, and the ability to coalesce workloads for cost savings and accelerated output.

By moving from location-dependent APIs to location-agnostic APIs, cloudless computing can optimize data routing and enable greater flexibility and cost savings. This is exemplified by compute-over-data projects like Bacalhau, which leverage the guarantees of cryptographic identity, verifiable data, and deterministic computing to create a competitive marketplace for computing infrastructure and algorithm vendors.

Early adopters of verifiable data include industries like smart contracts, NFTs, and DAOs, as well as organizations focused on maintaining journalistic integrity in reporting. One notable example is the Starling Lab, a nonprofit academic research center that uses cryptography and decentralized protocols to maintain trust in sensitive digital records giving journalistic data the standard of evidence that can be used in war crimes trials. The lab employs the Starling Framework of “Capture, Store, Verify” for digital media, leveraging IPFS to provide a powerful solution for trust and integrity. Their work demonstrates how verifiable data is essential for preserving and maintaining trust in critical historical data, which can be applied to various other use cases.

The growing demand for verifiable data is shaping the future of cloudless computing and distributed identity systems. Factors such as the rise of cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, regulations like GDPR, and advancements in AI and machine learning have contributed to the increasing need for verifiable data. As tools mature and the learning curve becomes less steep, organizations working on mission-critical data applications will increasingly adopt these technologies. Existing tools, such as programming notebooks and static site hosting, will evolve to use cloudless technology, further driving the adoption and impact of verifiable data in various industries and applications.

Now that we’ve reviewed the core enabling technologies, you can see how cloudless makes it possible to reduce costs and gain capabilities. Combining cryptographic identity, verifiable data, and deterministic compute allow for a more cost-efficient and flexible computing landscape, where users and applications can interact in ways not possible with traditional cloud-based systems. By leveraging cryptographic guarantees, cloudless computing unlocks a world of possibilities that extend beyond mere optimizations and cost savings, setting the stage for a future filled with new voices, applications, and opportunities.

Data Privacy and Ownership

As our digital lives become increasingly interconnected, the need for secure and user-friendly distributed identity systems grows more pressing. These systems are vital for protecting individual privacy and granting users control over their data. However, realizing the full potential of distributed identity systems requires overcoming numerous challenges, chief among them being the user experience. This section delves into the importance of UX in distributed identity systems, examining the latest innovations and trends that have improved security and usability, while also discussing the remaining challenges and how they can be addressed.

User experience (UX) is crucial for distributed identity systems, as it ensures ease of use, accessibility, and adoption for users of varying technical expertise. One of the most significant challenges is keypair management. Non-extractable keypairs, recently made available to the mainstream via WebAuthn and biometric authentication systems like TouchID and FaceID, have significantly improved the security and user experience in distributed identity systems.

WebAuthn is a modern web authentication standard that relies on authenticators, such as hardware security keys or platform-based authenticators like fingerprint scanners, to create and manage public-private key pairs securely. The private key remains securely stored on the authenticator and is never exposed, reducing the risk of key theft or unauthorized access.

The increasing familiarity with cryptography, fueled by the widespread adoption of cryptocurrency wallets like MetaMask, has also contributed to a better user experience in distributed identity systems.

Companies like Apple have played a significant role in improving the UX of distributed identity systems. Innovations like TouchID and FaceID, especially when used with open standards like WebAuthn, have made it easier for users to interact with such systems securely. WebAuthn supports non-extractable keypairs, providing enhanced security by ensuring that private keys are securely stored within authenticators and never exposed or extractable.

In addition to these security features, Apple’s iPhone setup process, which uses local radio and camera/screen inputs for secure pairing, is a great example of seamless user experience. This approach allows for easy capability delegation between device keys, ensuring that users can quickly and securely transfer data and settings between devices. It is worth noting that UCAN, a distributed authorization protocol, also leverages non-extractable keypairs and employs a similar delegation approach for enhanced security and user experience. Both Apple and UCAN demonstrate how integrating these concepts into distributed identity systems can result in a more intuitive and secure user experience.

In contrast, the open-source community often faces challenges in improving UX for distributed identity solutions. Solutions that cater to technical users may not be accessible or user-friendly for non-technical users. For instance, mnemonic passphrase private key sharing in cryptocurrency wallets may be suitable for tech-savvy users but not for the general population. To achieve a better user experience, developers need to invest time and effort in creating robust, user-friendly solutions.

As users become more sophisticated and technology becomes more user-friendly, the challenges of catering to users with less computing experience are gradually being addressed. A range of solutions for multi-signature recovery of crypto assets is available, spanning from powerful tools for geeks to easy-to-use options for non-technical users. The market will reward those with the most trustworthy UX, driving continuous improvement.

Emerging trends, technologies, and practices, such as the increasing demand for verifiable data, will contribute to improved data privacy and ownership through better UX in distributed identity systems. As enterprises recognize the cost-saving and performance-enhancing benefits of data verification, investment in UX for cryptographically aware toolchains will grow, resulting in more accessible and user-friendly cloudless solutions.

Not bullish on bearer tokens

In this section, we’ll dive into some technical details around the limitation of bearer tokens, the modern equivalent of cookies, as well as explore alternative cloudless solutions that promise enhanced security and efficiency. Although this discussion is a bit more technical in nature, we encourage readers of all backgrounds to stay engaged, as there is valuable information applicable to everyone. Following this section, we will broaden our focus to address further implications and opportunities in the realm of cloudless computing, data privacy, and distributed identity systems.

Bearer tokens, also known as access tokens or API keys, are commonly used in modern authentication and authorization systems to grant access to protected resources. They are typically issued by an authorization server and are passed along with each request to a resource server, which uses the token to determine whether the client has permission to access the requested resource. While bearer tokens have become a popular choice for authentication and authorization, they also come with several significant limitations.

One major issue with bearer tokens is that they encourage an architecture that routinely proxies data through multiple services. In many cases, a user’s device must send a request to a central service, which then forwards the request to another service with the bearer token attached. This process may be repeated multiple times before the data is ultimately returned to the user’s device. This proxying of data through multiple services is done to keep the bearer token secret and prevent it from being intercepted by a malicious actor, but it exacts a heavy cost in terms of performance, reliability, and resource use.

This proxying process is highly inefficient, as it adds multiple extra steps to the data retrieval process and can slow down the overall performance of the application. Additionally, it increases the risk of security breaches, as each service that handles the bearer token is a potential point of failure. Because bearer tokens are simply strings of characters that are passed along with each request, they can be easily intercepted and used by unauthorized parties if they are not properly protected. The more services that handle the bearer token, the greater the risk that it will be intercepted by a malicious actor.

Instead of dwelling on the risks of bearer tokens, let’s explore an alternative solution that leverages client-side cryptographic keys to create capabilities, delegations, invocations, and receipts that are safe to store-and-forward without the danger of replay attacks. This approach utilizes cryptographic proofs rather than bearer tokens. By signing each invocation as it is created, the client can safely send it to anyone on the network, who can route it to the service which will run it. This allows workloads to be coalesced and moved to the most cost-effective infrastructure, as described earlier as among the benefits of deterministic computing.

Centralized authentication systems, which often rely on bearer tokens, have their own set of issues. They are controlled by a single entity or organization, which can wield significant power over users and their data. These systems are also vulnerable to data breaches and hacking, resulting in sensitive information falling into the wrong hands. Furthermore, they favor data silos, making it difficult for users to share data across different platforms and services.

UCAN, or User-Controlled Authorization Networks, offers a decentralized access control protocol that enables secure and verifiable data routing by allowing users to delegate access to their capabilities using public key cryptography. Users can grant permission to access their data to other actors through the use of public keys, without the need for a central authority to manage authentication. With UCANs, users control the keys and delegations, and services can cryptographically verify proofs about the authorization data. UCANs rely on cryptographic signatures, reducing the risk of token leakage, stealing, and expiration.

This decentralized and location-independent approach to coding allows services to be composed without the need for a location-based proxy secret model and the risk of bearer token leakage. The “compute over data” model enables computations to be performed on the data, rather than the data being transported to the computation. This makes data routing possible in a secure and efficient manner, with computations performed and results signed by service providers without relying on intermediaries to handle and transmit the data.

By using verifiable data and UCAN, Cloudless computing demonstrates the benefits of a more secure, efficient, and user-controlled approach to authentication and authorization, moving away from the limitations and risks associated with traditional bearer tokens and centralized systems.

The democratization of app development

In the world of cloudless computing, a community of hobbyist developers can collaborate on a project, adding features and making modifications to the code as they see fit. Each member can spin up a copy of the app to experiment with, test, and improve. As the app evolves and attracts attention from others, it can grow and fork as new communities adopt the app. The cloudless nature of the project means there are no hosting bills, and the developers can avoid the crippling costs that often accompany the sudden popularity of a traditional application. This democratization of app development enables hobbyist developers to create and adapt applications without the limitations imposed by traditional platforms.

The relationship between hobbyist developers and platforms like GitHub fosters a thriving developer ecosystem. For example, the open-source project “TodoMVC” demonstrates the power of collaboration and forking on platforms like GitHub. Developers can easily compare different implementations of the same app using various frameworks and libraries, leading to numerous forks and adaptations as developers experiment and personalize the application. This collaborative environment is integral to the growth and success of open-source projects.

Decentralization empowers even hobbyist developers to address the same markets as mainstream applications, enabling them to create popular open-source projects without the constraints of traditional platforms. This leads to a more innovative and diverse app ecosystem, benefiting both developers and users alike.

Cloudless computing enables a wide range of innovative applications, such as:

  1. Decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms and secure document databases for smart contracts.
  2. Secure voting systems for election processes and corporate governance.
  3. Supply chain management systems for traceability and transparency of goods and products.
  4. Healthcare record management systems that are secure, immutable, and accessible.
  5. Legal document management systems for secure and tamper-proof tracking of legal agreements and contracts.
  6. Asset tracking systems for real-time tracking and management of physical assets.
  7. Identity management systems for secure and decentralized authentication and authorization. In the new world, these can be as easy-to-use and informal as is Openlinks, which makes verifiable link-in-profile pages, or as serious as digital drivers licenses.
  8. Environmental monitoring systems for real-time tracking of environmental conditions and data.
  9. Compliance management systems for secure and transparent tracking of regulatory compliance.
  10. Real estate management systems for secure and transparent tracking of property transactions and ownership.

These new types of apps present unique opportunities for hobbyist developers to create innovative solutions in various sectors, further driving the democratization of app development.

Automation tools, such as GitHub Actions, have emerged from the democratization of app development, supporting hobbyist developers and fostering a more inclusive developer ecosystem. By streamlining the software development process, these tools optimize developer productivity, ensure consistency, and elevate the overall project standard. Continuous integration and deployment enabled by automation tools allow developers to automatically test and build their code upon each commit, ensuring code quality and alignment with project standards. This approach reduces friction between team members, promotes a positive environment, and encourages open-source contributors to feel valued and respected. The result is a thriving, innovative, and successful developer community that benefits from collaboration and shared expertise.

The resilience and accessibility of cloudless computing pave the way for a Cambrian explosion of app developer voices. This democratization of app development breaks down barriers and empowers a diverse range of developers, including hobbyists, to create innovative applications without the constraints of traditional platforms. As we have seen with the unstoppable nature of crypto smart contracts, decentralization can lead to a flourishing ecosystem that transcends geographical, economic, and technical limitations.

The cloudless computing paradigm not only reduces costs and fosters collaboration but also enables developers to create secure, scalable, and efficient solutions across various industries. By embracing the potential of cloudless computing and learning from the success of peer-to-peer technologies like IPFS and Ethereum, we can expect a new wave of groundbreaking applications that enrich the lives of users worldwide.

Ultimately, this democratization of app development will lead to a more inclusive, innovative, and robust ecosystem, where diverse developer voices contribute to a brighter and more connected future.

Real-world examples

The advent of Cloudless computing has brought forth numerous groundbreaking applications and protocols that are already transforming the technological landscape. These early Cloudless applications not only showcase the innovative potential of this technology but also highlight the far-reaching impact it can have across various industries.

Smart contracts on platforms like Ethereum are one of the first and most well-known use cases of Cloudless computing. These self-executing contracts allow for secure and automated transactions on the blockchain, eliminating the need for intermediaries and reducing costs.

In the networking sphere, Socket Supply provides a runtime for decentralized applications, enabling developers to build and deploy their apps in a Cloudless environment. This approach promotes efficiency, security, and user control over data and logic.

For storage, Filecoin has emerged as a popular Cloudless solution that allows users to rent out their unused storage space and earn tokens in return. Filecoin leverages a decentralized network of storage providers, ensuring data redundancy and security.

Tableland, an API for decentralized databases, enables developers to build and deploy applications with user-owned data, ensuring privacy and data sovereignty.

Fission and BlueSky are also leading the charge in the Cloudless movement, focusing on giving users control over their data and the logic of the applications they interact with. These technologies empower users by decentralizing ownership and control of data and software, ensuring a more equitable and transparent digital landscape.

Long-standing protocols, such as DNS and HTTP, have paved the way for large-scale cooperation by insulating apps from implementation-specific details. Similarly, Ethereum and other blockchain technologies harness the power of peer-to-peer networks to create immutable logs, while the SWIFT message format enables secure store-and-forward messaging.

As Cloudless computing continues to evolve and mature, we can expect to see even more transformative applications and use cases across various industries. This paradigm shift will empower individuals, foster innovation, and ultimately reshape the digital world as we know it.

Cloudless computing has the potential to democratize the app development process, enabling hobbyist developers to create and share apps without the need for expensive hosting services. The transformative nature of Cloudless computing has already led to the emergence of innovative solutions in various industries, from healthcare to finance. With the development of decentralized hosting and management solutions, the cost and management of computational loads are reduced, allowing developers to handle resource limitations more effectively. The deployment of protocol nodes at the edge enables compute to be performed over data at rest, eliminating the need for unnecessary data transfers and improving the efficiency of querying data. As cryptographic verifiability makes trust more fungible, enterprises will be able to run their businesses on a competitive market of computing infrastructure and specialized algorithm vendors, resulting in lower costs and more robust applications. With Cloudless computing, we can expect a Cambrian explosion of app developer voices and unstoppable smart contract-powered experiences that will transform the way we interact with technology.

In Conclusion

As we look towards the future, the transformative power of cloudless computing is becoming increasingly evident. This revolutionary approach to application development and deployment offers numerous benefits, including reduced environmental impact, democratization of app development, enhanced data privacy, and new opportunities for developers and creators alike.

The environmental impact of cloudless computing cannot be overstated. By distributing computational resources across numerous devices and minimizing reliance on centralized data centers, energy consumption and carbon emissions can be significantly reduced. This decentralized approach to computing infrastructure not only promotes sustainability but also encourages innovative solutions for further reducing our digital footprint.

Developers are incentivized by the cloudless computing paradigm as it grants them greater freedom, flexibility, and access to markets previously dominated by mainstream applications. The ease of entry for hobbyist developers, facilitated by platforms like GitHub, fosters a vibrant and inclusive ecosystem that encourages creativity and collaboration.

The democratization of app development is further bolstered by the cloudless paradigm, breaking down barriers for independent developers and leveling the playing field. With the support of collaboration tools and automation like GitHub Actions, a more diverse range of developers can contribute to and benefit from this rapidly growing field.

Data privacy is another critical aspect of cloudless computing. By eliminating reliance on centralized cloud services, users can maintain greater control over their data and ensure that their information remains secure and private. This heightened level of privacy is particularly important in an era where data breaches and privacy concerns are increasingly common.

The rise of Web3 technologies and their impact on creators and rent-taker issues is also noteworthy. Decentralized platforms enable creators to retain control over their content, reduce fees paid to intermediaries, and foster more direct relationships with their audiences. As the Web3 ecosystem continues to evolve, cloudless computing will play a vital role in empowering creators and minimizing rent-seeking behaviors.

In addition to these broader benefits, cloudless computing brings forth a myriad of specific technologies and innovations. The use of UCAN invocations, IPFS, Merkle DAGs, immutable CIDs, and CAR transactions, are just a few examples of the tools that are shaping the future of cloudless computing. These advancements in data structures will eventually resemble GraphQL, SQL, and NoSQL database APIs, highlighting the potential for creating developer-friendly solutions.

Compute-over-Data (CoD) has become a practical way to run computations across large data archives, with compute-over-data projects like Bacalhau using immutable references to code and data to enable low cost big-data processing. Developers are increasingly leveraging tools like w3up and w3ui to delegate data uploads, reducing runtime requirements and avoiding unnecessary data transfers.

Optimized data routing and features like IPLD for HTML enable apps to run in the browser while still making UCAN calls that can be executed, cached, and stored anywhere on the network. The Saturn content delivery network will allow anyone to be compensated for accelerating these workloads.

Lastly, cloudless computing enables new capabilities and opportunities in the computing world. Innovative applications, such as secure voting systems, supply chain management systems, healthcare record management systems, and asset tracking systems, are just a few examples of the potential that cloudless computing offers. As more developers adopt this paradigm, we can expect to see even more groundbreaking innovations and advancements in the technology landscape.

The future of the cloudless paradigm is one of increased efficiency, cost savings, and empowerment for enterprises, developers, and individuals alike. As a market for computing and algorithms develops, data storage and serverless execution will transition from the centralized cathedral of big cloud providers to the decentralized bazaar of networked protocol participants.


A special thanks to the peer-to-peer and distributed data community for their invaluable contributions to the field of cloudless computing. Their dedication and innovation have significantly impacted this transformative technology, fostering a more decentralized, collaborative, and secure digital future. We appreciate their efforts and look forward to the continued growth of cloudless computing, thanks to their inspiring work and visionary leadership. Heartfelt thanks to the editors and individuals who provided feedback on the early drafts of this article. Your insights, suggestions, and attention to detail have been instrumental in shaping the final version.