Function: Cloud computing
Circulating supply: 79,070,793
Total supply: 86,999,785
Market cap: $111,832,195 USD
Exchanges: Bancor Network, Binance, Bitfinex, Bittrex, Gate.io, Gatecoin, HitBTC, Liqui, Livecoin, Radar Relay, Upbit
ICO: April–May 2017
One thing that blockchain has really driven home in the technology sector is that there is strength in numbers. Currently, the commercial Cloud computing companies available for personal and professional use is dominated by tech giants, like Amazon, Microsoft Azure, and Google. The Cloud computing industry and smaller businesses purchasing computing power has seen exponential growth, and is projected to break the 400 billion dollar mark by 2020. iExec is a decentralized Cloud computing company attempting to take on the likes of Amazon and Google by using the power of blockchain and pushing the current limits of an industry which has a combined gross revenue of $260 billion by the end of 2017. Furthermore, most established blockchains are not built to handle complex computational processing, which creates the need for an off-chain solution that can meet the specialized requirements of certain dApps, making it so that they do not have to rely on centralized solutions for the necessary computation. iExec’s decentralized computation platform would be a possible solution to the computational scaling problem current blockchains face.
There are a number of key factors that put iExec ahead of the competition. The first, while not so novel anymore, is smart contracts. iExec intends to use smart contracts to handle the settling of contract requirements from dApps, computing power, and their customers. The second is a much newer implementation, as it brings service-level agreements to the blockchain using sidechains and smart contracts.
The core team on iExec have worked to conceptualize and develop XtremWeb-HEP, which is an established, open-source software that enables users to utilize their unused computing power by allowing other users connected to the system to utilize the spare computing power on their machines. The creators are looking to expand this software to include a marketplace for end users and clients, where they can buy and sell their computer power using what is termed as “grids,” which the XtremWeb program implements. This provides notable benefits, including standardizing quality with an open-source and time-tested technology that is already being utilized in the world of Cloud computing.
iExec will be using a Proof-of-Contribution protocol to appropriately share the payment for the services rendered. This protocol has increased security and traceability for payments when compared to other protocols, such as Proof-of-Work. There is little dispute to transactions as they are easily found on the blockchain, where they are stored in the form of RLC tokens. This project intends to run dApps off chain, physics models, and other CPU intensive applications for various fields – especially once their platform is more developed – but can currently handle processing dApps off chain with unused computing power on their platform.
Another innovative idea iExec introduces to secure the blockchain is Domain Specific Blockchain. This approach deals with the concerns of the DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) in Ethereum’s initial phases. The smart contracts they plan on implementing are going to be used for matchmaking and multi-criteria scheduling. This allows for matching the required amounts of computing power to the needed clientele and allows clients to select specific criteria to match their orders, such as trust, reliability, cost efficiency, and power efficiency.
iExec has partnered with some prominent crypto projects, such as Request Network, Signals Network, Flixxo, and Shopin. These current partnerships provide dApps that are now available on the iExec app store. More recently, they have announced a partnership with Genesis Mining, noting them by name in their whitepaper as being a candidate to run iExec software in tandem with mining Ethereum. Further, they are providing a total of 150,000 dollars in grants for developers to utilize their custom SDK to build decentralize applications for the iEx.ec app store.
Since the ICO concluded in April 2017, iExec now has an application store for the platform available on their website. They currently have 10 dApps available, including a crypto trading platform, which provides signals for markets via the Signals Network, a decentralized chess game, a factorial finding engine, Flixxo, a decentralized video distribution engine, and Shopin, a universal shopping engine that provides a personalized shopping experience, Blender, a 3D rendering and creation suite, with more dAPPs slated to be released soon. These partnerships give iExec an edge when compared to the competition, as many companies have tried to make a distributed supercomputer, such as SONM and Golem, but lack functionality before launching their project in full. iExec launched with a host of partners, and per their roadmap, have more in the pipeline. Primarily, their partners will allow for those who want to run smart contracts off the blockchain.
iExec mentions that larger centralized services will also be able to sell their computing power for iExec tokens, referencing Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS as some players in this domain. They suggest these big players utilize their service in addition to their current business model to improve their bottom line by utilizing the unused computing power they have available. The iExec platform intends to go after utilizing everyday users for their customer base as well. They envision a future in which you can use their software to create a portion of the “grid” on a local machine and host it for someone on the internet to utilize. These will be secured using smart contracts, and the settlements will be handled via their Proof of Contribution model.
The roadmap for iExec is broken up into stages and focuses on the hardware required for each stage:
November 2017 – The first stage, labeled as V1, is based around sharing Cloud computing services and running dAPPs to launch off-chain computing and retrieving results. This is the most rudimentary aspect of their service. This is the current stage of the project, with plans to sell computing power in Q1 2018.
May 2018 – V2 is labeled as the “Market Network” and is slated to release in May of 2018. During this portion, they will focus on creating a functional and usable GUI, as well as an API and payment operations. This portion will allow servers and other applications to come online with services like biomedical data storage, graphical rendering, and mathematical analysis. Version 2 is currently in production, and about a sixth of the way to completion, with five goals, underway or completed. They are nearing the launch of the user interface for selling computing power.
May 2019 – V3 will bring about DRM, support for data-intensive computing, and even a blockchain-based reputation system.
May 2020 – V4 then introduces GPU resources, which will largely bring about high-performance computing for the network. They intend to bring on mining rigs, much like some other projects in the space, allowing for 3D rendering and deep learning.
May 2021 – V5, labeled as “Beyond the Distributed Cloud,” intends to integrate the Internet of Things as well as swarm technology for the platform. During this timeframe, the platform will move to a fully decentralized format, allowing the Internet of Things to participate in unused power rentals along with utilizing swarm technology. The project will also be working to create an “energy positive worker,” which will provide services matching orders with little to no deficits of resources.
The iExec token sale took place April 19th, 2017, and had a hard cap of 10,000 BTC. They issued 87 million tokens to participants in under three hours. The token sale sold out mostly in pre-sale and with other private investors. This is still after a seven-day delay due to a security audit that was provided on April 19th, 2017, where iExec’s Ethereum smart contract was analyzed for weaknesses.
At the time of the token sale, Smith and Crown reported the proceeds were worth $12,120,000. Bonuses that were available during the token sale were as follows:
All tokens were sold with a 20% bonus as the crowd sale only lasted a few hours
- 69% of tokens were sold to the public.
- 17% was reserved for the team and early investors
- 7% was reserved for contingency
- 7% reserved for the development fund
Token Sale Allocation
Currently, the RLC token is used to access and pay for network usage. Funding other providers of computing power is a key utility of the token. If there are no iExec tokens in play, there is no incentive to distribute computing power. The payment for computing power is the most basic utility of the token. The price point will most likely be recalculated once distributed computing power becomes available on the open markets in Q1 of 2018, but at this point the team is waiting to see how the implementation of the network will play out.
The dApps are the primary goods available to spend RLC tokens on at this point, but there has yet to be any computing power available on the market outside of the team’s own nodes. The larger implementation is outlined in detail on their roadmap, but still remains to be seen. The ability to provide self-hosted servers locally from the user’s end is slated to come online within the second quarter of 2018. Afterwards, the RLC tokens become an important factor in a brand new economy of Cloud computing.
There are plenty of other projects that do distributed storage on the blockchain, but iExec does not intend to compete directly with that technology. Instead, they are attempting to establish a connection to these projects on the blockchain by partnering with them. For example, projects like Siacoin were mentioned in the second version of their whitepaper as a potential partner for their use of Cloud storage on the blockchain, but they explicitly state that they do not want to pursue this market share. iExec has decided on a clear niche and will strategically partner where necessary.
There are other projects in the blockchain space, like Golem and Elastic, that are attempting to decentralize supercomputing such as iExec has planned. However, they are still in the development phase and slated to come online well after iExec has established its network. According to the iExec team, GridCoin has very limited uses, being side-lined to “altruistic” endeavours, and Golem has a vastly different go-to-market strategy, with differing approaches on implementing Cloud computing. This leaves Golem waiting to establish a “virtual supercomputer” before bringing a product to market, thus focusing more on corporate clients.
Another big project in the public eye has been SONM. While they seem very similar in scope, the time-to-market is another stumbling block when compared to iExec. Even with SONM’s testnet launch in January 2018, iExec is already outpacing their roadmap. SONM is also geared towards allowing the average consumer on board, which could potentially hurt iExec’s market share. For example, SONM is looking to more consumer electronic devices, including game consoles, to be part of their computing power network.
Largely the biggest benefit here is that iExec is poising itself to be the primary supplier of off-chain computing power for dApps. Their projections are quite aggressive, as by 2018 they intend to have a handle on an 8-billion-dollar industry that increases exponentially in the following years. This is one of the only projects that provides computational power for dApps, even when compared with commercial Cloud computing, such as Amazon or Microsoft Azure. Though there are a few other similar projects in the blockchain space, they usually only do specific types of information, such as random numbers generation or API information, like cancelled flights. With this in mind, it is easy to assume that there could be a meteoric rise in appreciation of iExec, but this all depends on the efficacy of the team, how many projects will utilize them, and how prevalent iExec’s marketing efforts will be.
From 2007-2012, the team worked to establish the European Desktop Grid Infrastructure (EDGI), along with various other projects that were funded by the European Union. They received numerous grants to set up this infrastructure.
The team looks like the roster to a university, with about ten PhDs on staff in computing and cryptography. Even though there is some discrepancy between the current and previous team, the actual project launch and working product on the market show that, at some level, the change in staffing has made significant alterations in the project’s completion.
The team has had powerful working partnerships, like operating nodes for use in the Large Hadron Collider, and has academic partnerships with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, French National Center for Scientific Research, and the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation. In addition, the founders of iExec bring decades of relevant experience to the table. Gilles Fedak has a hefty list of publications on Google Scholar about Cloud computing theory, and Haiwu He was recently listed in the top 100 of China’s Most Creative People in Business according to Fast Company. The team was originally based on ten or so people but has expanded to a much larger number after the ICO concluded, including replacing some of their original members in July 2017. What follows is a breakdown of the core team.
Gilles Fedak – CEO and Co-Founder
Dr. Fedak is one of the more prominent people in the project as he is one of the core developers and publishers of distributed Cloud computing theory that you can find the world over. Prior to founding this organization, he worked primarily as a research scientist. Since 2004, he has worked on various grants and published a book called Desktop Computing Grids, which iExec uses as its core software. Up to this point, he was a doctorate student in “opensource middleware” from the University Paris-Sud.
Haiwu He – Chief Scientist and Co-Founder
Dr. He is a professor in Computer Network Information at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is a three-year member of the team according to his profile, specializes in Cloud computing, and has a number of post-doctoral studies based in this arena. Having a well-connected team member based in Beijing is a unique point of growth going forward, with the ability to tap the Chinese markets and utilize contacts in this area to get at some of the most coveted populations in the sphere.
Mircea Moca – Business Development and Fintech Expert
Mircea is a Romanian business developer who has a focus on technical executives and analysis. He is also building the SynergyCrowds platform at the same time as implementing the iExec platform. He is a prominent figure on the team as he is a peer reviewer for two technical journals, the Journal of Grid Computing and the Future Generation Computer Systems Journal. In his past, Dr. Moca was an Associate Professor at Babes-Bolyai University and VP of AFPAT, a professional development company for young people.
Heitem Abbes – System Architect
Heitem has an established online presence, with his own Google website, along with various scholarly publications in system architecture. He currently holds a position as an Assistant Professor at FST, a French science research institute. Dr.Abbes received his doctorate in 2009. He received his PhD in Philosophy with a focus in Computer Science. He has various skills, such as being a mobile developer and Cloud computing proficiencies.
Julien Berenger – Community manager
Julien is still on board with iExec. He has received a promotion from “Communication and Content” to “Head of Communication” in July. He studied at the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations and speaks Chinese. Prior to joining iExec, Julien worked as an independent translator. Julien also speaks French, Italian, English, and Vietnamese.
The current team of iExec is vastly different than when the company launched. This can initially be an item of concern, but iExec has handled its transitions with grace by adding capable team members, advisors, and partners since the departures and the launching of their dapp store.
In April of 2017, iExec announced a list of 12 advisors, ranging from legal counsel to business and technical development. The list includes some high-profile names, including Han Feng, President of the Digital Asset Coalition of Asia; Industry Advisor Feller Gao, Strategy and Cooperation Director with Huawei Technology; Industry Partner Genesis Mining; and as mentioned before, even an academic partnership with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
This list puts the whole scope of the project in the viewfinder, really making it clear that there is a level of professionalism and academic inquiry happening here. The project’s potential becomes more apparent as Chinese research institutions are partnering, along with big players in the blockchain space.
iExec is set aside from other platforms in the sense that they have been fast to reach the market and position themselves to be the disruptive technology that others have promised. Due to their fast pace in reaching a working product for the market, there is a good probability for fast growth in adoption.
The partnerships are going to be quintessential for making use of the iExec platform. There are many well-established projects in the space that have teamed up with iExec, as well as some projects in the “real world,” such as the Large Hadron Collider, in which they are already utilizing the resources that iExec offers on their platform. This has the capability of changing the game for blockchain technology by moving computations entirely off of the blockchain.
The team has strong ties to China and has a partnership with a top Chinese university, Chinese Academy of Sciences, which has done significant research on computing power. With Dr. He being a professor there, this partnership is but a logical extension of the research that goes on at the academy. This is largely a representation of the diversity present within the team, having French, Chinese, Dutch, and many other nationalities involved.
Ultimately, iExec intends to take on some very similar projects that are working with deep learning, rendering, and the like by the time they get to version 4, as they will be bringing on GPU miners for their token and will be able to sell computing power to do things such as deep learning and 3D rendering – positioning them to take on some other big-name projects in the space, such as DeepBrain Chain and Neuromation. The project has this slated for a few quarters ahead of their competition, and iExec has a chance to outshine them depending on how accessible they make their product and the progress that the other names in the space have made.
As mentioned, the team seem to be ready to take on anything in their creation of an infrastructure of the future. It is a bit unsettling in traditional investigative standards that about 40% of the team have moved on, but this could simply be a needed house cleaning. It is still unclear as to what happened with the contingency funds laid out in the token allocation, and thus this could increase the circulation by 7%. It is unconfirmed if the missing team members still have their shares of iExec tokens. Furthermore, there is simply a lack of information about the project. The team has attempted to remedy this based on the developer blogs that have been posted. However, coming in Q2 2018, there will be a desktop client to allow users to rent out unused resources and put them up in the marketplace for anyone to utilize. This will be a turning point in the project when this rollout occurs.
When the project matures, the competition will then elevate to include some of the bigger named Cloud computing services that function on centralized servers. The team suggested allowing Amazon and the like to utilize their grids and effectively sell unused computing power when it is un-rented, as these companies undoubtedly have large amounts of unused computing power waiting to be put to use. It was implied that some of these centralized Cloud computing services were competition, but there is a much more complex relationship that can be explored. While they may be competing for the same market share on the purchasing market, vending of these big players’ computing power can be a huge untapped resource as iExec grows in prominence in the space.
All content provided by IRG is purely observational and should not be considered financial advice. IRG is not an investment group, but a research group that meticulously scans the market for those projects deemed to have the most potential. Cryptoassets are subject to high market volatility and risk, invest responsibly at your own risk. Seek a licensed professional before making any investments.