Google has partnered with Dapper Labs, the creator of the Flow blockchain and NFT marketplaces like NBA Top Shot. Google will help to scale the Flow blockchain by letting Flow nodes operate on its low latency cloud service. The partnership was announced via a press release with Forbes.
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The Flow blockchain currently supports applications like NBA Top Shot, CryptoKitties, UFC collectibles and more, which have seen immense growth and use over the last year. The partnership with Google will let Flow developers connect to lower latency nodes running on Google's cloud services.
Google's vice president of Google Cloud North America, Janet Kennedy, said that, with blockchain becoming more mainstream, this partnership is about helping the Flow blockchain and dapper labs achieve sustainable growth.
“It's really about helping them with rapid and sustainable growth,” says Kennedy. “Blockchain technology is becoming more and more mainstream. So companies like Dapper need scalable, secure infrastructure to grow their business, and even more importantly, support their networks.”
This multi-year partnership with Google does not mean that node operators on the Flow blockchain must use Google's cloud services. They are still free to use Amazon Web Services or their own hardware and network.
But Google has simplified the process of how Flow node operators can integrate their node with Google's cloud system. The CEO of Dapper Labs, Roham Gharegozlou, said that blockchain today in some ways mirrors what happened when people began realizing that the iPhone was the future of cellphones.
“What you're seeing on blockchain today is the iPhone moment where consumers are starting to understand what's going on,” Gharegozlou says. “There's tons of opportunity to build everything from the Flappy Bird to the Angry Bird of Flow and just blockchain in general.”
Dapper Labs is among the most successful companies to capitalize on the booming NFT and crypto-collectible industry. While this new partnership with Google may have scalability benefits for the Flow blockchain, there are also cons to the reliance on one large company's web services.
The initial purpose of Bitcoin was to have a system that relied on individuals and their basic computers. This way, if enough people were using it, it wouldn't matter if some individual's computers failed. While it may be harder to scale this system to allow for mass amounts of transactions compared to a system running on Google's speedy servers, it poses fewer risks for centralization and downtime.
One report from 2019 showed that over 60% of Ethereum nodes were run on a cloud offered by companies like Amazon, Google and others, and just under 40% of nodes were run "on-premises," or in-house.
This is a bit hypocritical of a blockchain claiming to be decentralized and without single points of failure. While it is rare that Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud shut down, it can and has happened. Not only that, but these companies also reserve the right to shut down servers at will.
Google's partnership with Dapper Labs will help its Flow blockchain to scale with speed and efficiency, but its users may want to be wary of just how much of the network is operating within Google's cloud.
This story is developing.