Google is experimenting with blockchain for use in the cloud

Reports suggest Google's parent company Alphabet is one of the leading investors in blockchain start-ups to support cloud businesses

David Nurieli
Read +
Follow Us

According to Bloomberg, If there’s a new technology around, it usually doesn’t take too long for Google to get involved. The tech giant is quietly working on blockchain technology to "head off competition from emerging startups" that are already beginning to specialise in the technology to offer a range of new services.

Blockchain is a potentially disruptive technology to track assets and transactions in a digital record held collectively among many computers instead of a single centralized database. It could speed transactions like home or car purchases, cut down on counterfeiting, cut out middlemen like brokers and escrow firms, and speed up multiparty processes like getting goods through a port. And it's the foundation of cryptocurrency projects like like bitcoin and Ethereum.

Start-ups are utilising the technology for different initiatives, whether that’s to verify diamonds or to create new digital currencies. And investors are increasingly interested as well. 

As a result, Google is reportedly working on its own “blockchain-related” technology to support its cloud business.

In 2016 Google started cloud-based user-tests for blockchain developers but this latest work is reportedly more wide ranging and could include a Google distributed digital ledger and a “white-label” blockchain that other companies can use to run on their own servers.

Alphabet is Google’s parent company and it has been one of most active investors in blockchain companies, according to a report published by CB Insights in October. The company has invested in wallet service, Blockchain Luxembourg, the financial transaction network Ripple, the cryptocurrency asset management platform LedgerX and the international payment provider Veem.

According to an article posted by CNBC, Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google's senior vice president of ads and commerce, said the company was researching the technology, but had no official product announcements to make.

"This is a research topic, so I don't have anything super-definitive to say. We have a small team that is looking at it. The core blockchain technology is not something that is super-scalable in terms of the sheer number of transactions it can run," he told an audience at the Advertising Week Europe conference in London, as part of a question-and-answer session on Wednesday.

Sources told Bloomberg that the company is developing its own distributed digital ledger. This will be used by third parties to post and verify transactions, much the way the bitcoin blockchain works. 

Google reportedly wants to use this for its cloud technology. For instance, it could be used to reassure customers that their information is protected when stored in the Google Cloud.

Cloud services, when companies use the computing services of bigger companies over the internet (known as the cloud), are a big money maker for tech firms now.

Other IT majors, including IBM, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure have been very active with solutions and services. They have allowed their companies to research their self-developed blockchain platforms and develop solutions around them using their cloud services. 

With the competition growing in cloud services, whether that’s from Amazon or Microsoft with its Azure service, Google needs to differentiate itself. 

According to WinterGreen Research, IBM leads the pack in terms of global blockchain sales with 32%, followed by Microsoft and Accenture at 19% and 17% respectively. The research claims that the product and services market may grow from $706 million in 2016 to $60 Billion in 2024.