[RC5] Commercial Applications of V3

David McNett nugget at slacker.com
Sat Jun 13 14:43:15 EDT 1998


On 9-Jun-1998, William wrote:
> Working on encryption for fun is great but are there any serious
> bussiness applications that can benefit from this kind of massive
> distibuted computing?  Has Distirbuted Net been approached to
> produce any distributed business applications?  Can this massive
> distributed computing model be extended to produce any typical or
> useful business applications?

(I recognize that this response does not specifically address
William's question, but rather a broader concept.  His posting
to the list triggered a response to a question I've been asked
several times recently and that I think deserves a public statement.)

While it is quite conceivable (and many would argue -- inevitable)
that a market will someday form around cpu cycles, it is not
distributed.net's focus, goal, or place to develop that market.
distributed.net is a wholly non-profit venture with two primary
motivations.

First, we desire to actively test the boundaries and push the limits
of what is possible with distributed computing.  We are here to
determine the range of tasks which are appropriate for a distributed
computing model and then to refine that model making such an
approach not only appropriate but realistic as well.  While the
component technologies involved in what we are all doing are not
new, this is undeniably the largest organized distributed computing
venture in existence and as such we are in a position to prove (or
disprove) the many theories and concepts regarding just what sort of
results this technology can expect to yield.  Today we are the
pioneers fighting to prove to ourselves and others that this is a
valid and useful tool.

Secondly, we recognize that a significant and tangible byproduct of
this experimentation is a corpulent, seething mass of computer
cycles and we would like nothing more than to see those cycles
directed towards projects that benefit us as a whole.  There is a
wide and exciting array of tasks which we are well positioned to
work on.  Tasks that may not necessarily generate sufficient
commercial appeal and tasks that might very well otherwise be
ignored by groups and organizations with sufficient computing muscle
to effectively focus on.  There are many tasks which require
computer power of this scale, and precious few sites with the
ability, motivation, and time to spend on them.

Distributed computing is virgin ground.  There are dozens of issues
which will need to be addressed before anyone could even begin to
build a viable market around it.  Surely, there are technological
and philosophical issues which have not even been anticipated that
will be dealt with first.  What we do here today is simply the first
step, and what distributed.net has managed to build and continues to
develop over time will surely impact the direction of distributed
computing technologies.   However, our strength lies not only in
recognizing what we can do, but in what we cannot do.  There will
be others who will take what we build and integrate it into
the free market.  While that aim is certainly in no way contrary
to the goals of distributed.net, we recognize that it is a
separate and fundamentally different focus.

As to specific business tasks which are suited for a distributed-
computing solution, there are thousands, I'm sure and they will
all benefit from what we are learning here and now.

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