Sonm (SNM) is a project that is trying to create a free marketplace of decentralized cloud-based services based on distributed hardware.
This includes devices such as servers, mining equipment, and even individual PCs. The Sonm project hopes to make it possible to rent out available computing power when needed. Indeed, decentralized cloud services aren’t something new in the world of blockchains.
With so many competing protocols, can Sonm really differentiate themselves?
In this Sonm review, I will take an in-depth look into the project, its technology and development roadmap. I will also analyse the long term use cases and adoption potential of the SNM tokens.
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What is Sonm?
Projects like Golem and iExec are similar to Sonm as all three are aiming to provide a globally distributed marketplace of computing power. In the case of Sonm, the project is using fog networking to create an Ethereum based universal fog supercomputer. Fog computing is the next step beyond cloud computing and is notable for being both safer and more cost-efficient.
SONM Fog Computing vs. Cloud Computing. Image via SONM Blog
One of the cost-savings from Sonm will come from a reduction in the need for infrastructure to house expensive hardware, and the manpower needed to provide administration. And besides being cheaper, fog computing also provides an easier way for users to connect to the processing power they need.
There are a number of use cases already identified for the fog network based Sonm. Processing intensive scientific research and video rendering are two use cases that would benefit from Sonm. Any type of online gaming could also benefit, as could website hosting. The user decides how much computing power they need and what purpose it will be used for.
You might be wondering where all the computing power comes from. PCs and servers can rent their processing power, but the Sonm team believes the most stable source of processing power comes from miners. Sonm is a perfect platform for mining cryptocurrencies without the threat of bans or algorithm changes.
Current Network Stats on Sonm
By using Sonm, miners can automatically have their computers switch to the most profitable venture at any given time, renting out their processing power where it is most profitable for them. Sonm can even be used with mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.
Sonm Use Cases and Advantages
There are a fairly broad number of use cases for Sonm which I’ve mentioned above and would like to go into more detail over. Here are some potential use cases for the network:
Scientific Applications – Many scientific research projects require immense amounts of computing power in order to complete detailed calculations. Some potential areas for scientific application include trajectory calculations for rockets, satellites and meteors, bioinformatics, climate modeling, drug development, and aerodynamic calculations.
Web Hosting – While it isn’t as critical as the above applications, the Sonm platform can significantly reduce the cost of website hosting. It also removes the dependence on centralized hosting and cloud service providers.
Online Game Servers – Sonm believes that miners would be able to support the computer resource needs of game servers by receiving game tokens for their resources. This would allow for massive scale in games and would allow game servers to run without ever needing to use fiat currency to pay for anything.
Neural Networks – Any project utilizing neural networks uses huge amounts of computing power and could benefit from Sonm. This can also apply to artificial intelligence projects.
Video and CGI Rendering – This is another extremely resource-intensive application that uses immense amounts of computing power. Currently, it can take days to weeks to render CGI projects, but the Sonm developers say their network can do the same job in minutes thanks to the distributed nature of the network.
Web Applications – Any web app currently running in the cloud could benefit from being moved to the decentralized Sonm “fog network.”
Benefits of Fog Computing
In all of the above cases the clients will benefit from Sonm in the following ways:
- Decentralization frees users from the bounds of centralized authorities. Moreover, anonymous users can use the privacy enhancing software that has been provided by Sonm.
- One of the primary features that led to Sonm landing funding is the cost efficiency of the platform. Any project will find lower costs in the decentralized Sonm fog network.
- Sonm works with a token ecosystem and each client can customize the use and features of those tokens for their specific project.
- Because Sonm is based on torrent protocol all data transfer on the network is extremely fast and wastes far less time on uploads when compared with traditional centralized solutions.
The Sonm Marketplace
In short, the Sonm marketplace is where users will go to buy and sell computing power. Sellers might be anyone from a single individual selling the excess computing power from their home PC to a massive data center with thousands of servers.
Supply and Demand in Sonm Ecosystem. Image via Sonm Blog
Sonm allows both to monetize spare, unused resources and because Sonm supports all types of resources sellers can rent out just the resources they aren’t using, whether that’s from the GPU, CPU, disk or networking resources.
Buyers in the Sonm Marketplaces are those who need computing power to complete a task or ongoing series of tasks. They can define what type of resource they need, and how much they are willing to pay. They benefit from lower costs, instant scalability, and ease of access to computing resources.
Benefits to Sonm Customers
In addition to the benefits listed above, customers will benefit from Sonm’s focus on customer satisfaction. The development team continues to study the resource marketplace and add new features to benefit customers. One of these benefits is the Infrastructure as a Service platform that allows customers to choose the exact hardware resource they need.
Sonm has been designed to have compatibility with the Docker environment on Linux so that customers will be able to access resources without making changes to the computing process. It is compatible with the tools currently used to run and control tasks, and uses Docker containers, the industry-accepted delivery method, to handle deployments.
Quick Renting Resources on SONM Marketplace
The flexibility that allows a customer to choose their computer resource, price and rental time will be greatly appreciated, and with delivery automated the customer will always get exactly what they’ve contracted and paid for. Plus customers can benefit from the high liquidity that comes with the distributed network.
Scalability allows customers to instantly add and release resources as necessary. Security of the system is also a top priority, and Sonm has been working on hardware-enforced security in its platform.
Benefits to Sonm Suppliers
The most obvious benefit to suppliers is the stream of revenue they can receive for renting out unused resources. It also targets a specific supplier, the miner, and gives them a better option than mining a specific cryptocurrency.
With Sonm a supplier can choose among task only the most profitable and can switch to more profitable tasks whenever they like. And according to Sonm the profits from providing resources for real-world projects and applications will almost always be greater than those from mining.
Mining Crypto or “Mining” on the Sonm Network
And if there are no available tasks suppliers can receive regular mining work from Sonm as well, ensuring no idle time for their resources. This gives miners the best of both worlds as they enjoy higher priced resource rentals when possible, but can switch to mining tasks when necessary to ensure a continued revenue stream.
Sonm Team & Community
The Sonm team currently consists of over 30 individuals spread across the globe. The co-founders of the project are Aleksei Antonov and Sergei Ponomarev. Aleksei has stepped back from the project and acts as an advisor, while Sergey left the project to work on another startup in 2018.
Sonm’s previous CTO, Igor Lebedev has taken up the mantle and stepped into the CEO role. He completed a computer science degree at Murmansk State Technical University. Prior to joining Sonm, he held a number of software engineering roles including 3 years at Prognoz.ru and a year at EPAM systems.
SONM Founders Aleksei Antonov and Sergei Ponomarev
The Sonm development team is currently split into four sub-teams based on the functional area of the platform architecture. Those sub-teams are Node (Core), Smart Contracts, Wallet (Client), and Distributer Entity and Integration.
Sonm also has a pretty active community is quite involved in the promotion of the project. For example, they have over 31,000 followers on their Twitter which they regularly use to update the community. They also have a Telegram channel which I dived into. There was a lot of interesting conversation and the admins were very supportive.
Finally, they also have a dedicated Sonm Subreddit, Bitcoin Talk thread and Facebook group. It is always great to see engaged community as it is more likely to drive wider adoption of a project.
The SNM Token
Sonm held its token sale in June 2017, raising $42 million through the sale of 262,500,000 SNM tokens at a price of $0.16 each. The price of the tokens immediately jumped following the ICO, and just two days later it hit an all-time high of $1.02. Unfortunately, it wasn’t able to hold anything close to that level, falling back and never again reaching those heights.
During the bull run of December 2017 and January 2018, it did reach $0.776672 on January 7, but has tracked steadily lower since. Early investors are no doubt quite disappointed in their investment as the token hit an all-time low of $0.016675 on December 15, 2018, and remains significantly depressed at $0.024026 as of May 1, 2019.
Those who think SNM might be a bargain at current prices can only really find any volume for it at the Binance Exchange or at KuCoin. Even then, the trading volume at SNM at these exchanges is really quite weak with 24 hour turnover of only $65,480 at the time of this post.
Low trading volumes could pose a challenge to those users who are looking to buy / sell SNM as any sizable order could completely move the market. This also poses a risk to the market of SNM as it means that potential for market manipulation is greater with lower volume coins.
Having said that, there are a number of non-custodial exchanges that list SNM. These include the likes of Changelly, ChangeNow and Indacoin. However, when we had a look at this on Changelly, the exchange rate was very poor.
Once you have your SNM, you are going to want to take it off the exchanges and store it in an offline wallet. Because SNM is an ERC-20 token it can be stored in any ERC-20 compatible wallet such as MyEtherWallet / MyCrypto.
There is also a native wallet that you can use for Sonm. This is their latest SONM GUI that was released with their Mainnet launch that took place in 2018. You can download the files as well as read the user guide on the Sonm GitHub.
Sonm Development & Roadmap
Determining exactly how much work is being done on a project can sometimes be hard. However, there is one quick and relatively effective way to do this and that is through their public code commmits on GitHub.
Hence, I decided to dive into the Sonm GitHub to get a better sense of how much code the developers were pushing. There are a total of 28 repositories at Sonm but below are the code commits for the two most active repos.
Code commits for select repos over past 12 months
As you can see, the developers have been quite active pushing code both into the core and Wallet repo. This shows that the project is still building out technology and is more active than other ICO’ed projects that have fizzled out.
Indeed, if we were to compare Sonm to the other projects in the crypto ecosystem, they rank pretty well. For example, in terms of Core commits, they are ranked at 54 which is just below Bitcoin Cash but above Bitshares.
Of course, there may also be quite a bit of coding that has been done in private repositories. This would indeed make sense in the context of the broader roadmap that Sonm has for the rest of the year. Below are the remaining milestones for 2019 as outlined their Aug 2018 Roadmap:
Marketing, Business and Product Milestones for 2019
It will be interesting to see what the team is able to release in the coming quarters. If you wanted to keep up to date with the project then you should keep an eye on their official blog as they post regular monthly development updates here.
The idea of creating a global supercomputer of shared resource usage isn’t a new idea. Using fog computing to create that supercomputer is, and the Sonm marketplace is already live and has processed nearly 200,000 deals.
This marketplace brings fog computing to the masses as anyone can participate as a buyer or seller of resources. Sellers make money off unused resources and buyers get access to a pool of inexpensive computing power.
The drop in the price of the token is concerning, but it could also mean the SNM token is currently on sale at a deep discount, and those who buy now could be handsomely rewarded when the cryptocurrency markets recover. The project has been developing nicely and is at the forefront of shared computing.
Featured Image via Fotolia