​Want to profit from your underused servers? Overclock has an idea

Overclock has a plan on how to turn your datacenter into a profit center.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Video: Portrait of a modern multi-cloud data center

Containers and private clouds make it easier than ever to make the most from your datacenter's resources. But there are still times your servers are just sitting there, blinking their lights. Overclock, a start-up cloud vendor using Kubernetes, has a notion on how you can profit from your idle servers while helping other companies in need of inexpensive compute.

Read also: Yahoo Japan deploys single-socket AMD EPYC 7000 series processors

Its newest program, Akash ('sky' in Hindi) Network, is an open marketplace that connects companies with idle compute capacity to users who need it. It also provides the tools needed to configure, deploy, monitor, and manage containerized workloads.

Akash is a blockchain-powered, open, and decentralized compute marketplace, which enables you to monetize your business's underused server capacity. With up to 85 percent of the world's compute capacity sitting unused in data centers, there's a lot of compute out there.

Akash works by running customer workloads in Docker containers, orchestrated by Kubernetes, on your servers. For your part, your IT staff installs the Akash agent on servers you want to add to the network. Once registered, your servers become available for clients for their containerized workloads.

Workloads and payments are transferred by Blockchain. All marketplace transactions and adverse events are publicly available on Akash's native blockchain. This open system, the company said, replaces blind trust in a single provider and provides actors in a trustless system with evidence-based assurance of safety and quality.

This is built upon earlier Overclock work on its Decentralized Infrastructure for Serverless Computing Operations (DISCO). This is a serverless-style platform. DISCO's goal is not to bring back bad dance music, but to enable companies to work with any cloud service provider and easily move workloads between clouds. For developers, Overclock CEO Greg Osuri told TechCrunch, it should be something like using the Heroku Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).

Your applications don't need to be re-architected to run on blockchain, because they're run in Docker containers and performance does not suffer as more processes are run on the network.

You're paid by using peer-to-peer blockchain-based Initial Coin Offering (ICO), the Akash token. Overclock said this is a necessary element of the peer-to-peer relationship established between tenant and provider, and eliminates dependence on an intermediary incented to extract maximum revenue from the system. Finally, the decentralized nature of a blockchain enables Akash's procurement and settlement to be fault tolerant, as there is no single point of failure.

Providers bid to host workloads using Akash tokens. The logic is this will drive overall costs down. Since there is no Akash network middleman, no single entity can drive prices up.

Deployment slots are allocated via an auction process that begins with a user defining the deployment criteria -- resources, topology, price, etc. -- in a declarative file posted to the Akash blockchain. Providers then programmatically bid on the deployment, with the low bid winning and creating a lease between client and provider, again written to the chain.

Workloads are then distributed off-chain via Akash's peer-to-peer file sharing protocol, and a secure overlay network is then established. Once live, the agreed-upon Akash tokens are transferred from client to provider periodically for as long as the workload is live, as determined by the network.

"Other providers use the blockchain to create a single virtual machine that can run distributed apps, which are specifically architected to run only on that virtual machine," said Osuri. "Using Akash, any vendor can claim a slice of the cloud computing pie and enjoy recurring revenue without launching a new line of business. We firmly believe that Cloud compute capacity should be traded on the open market, with transparent and competitive prices and users free to change providers at will."

Read also: Cisco critical flaw: At least 8.5 million switches open to attack, so patch now

The Akash Network is live and ready to make you money, or save your money, depending on which end of the blockchain you're sitting on. For a more technical overview, see the white paper Akash Network: Decentralized, Container Native, Cloud Computing.

Personally, I think Akash has a lot of potential. Both the technical and business models make sense to me. Give it a try and let me know how it works out for you.

Related stories

Editorial standards