Shifting paradigms

Forget about the new internet! Blockchains are the latest ‘Linux alike’ revolution

Phil Zamani
© Shutterstock / Alexander_Borisenko

In this article, Phil Zamani, Chairman and CEO of the AERGO Foundation, and co-CEO at Blocko Inc. explains the value of blockchain technology to the average consumer. It might not be the “new internet”, but it is still just as revolutionary. See how blockchain is paving the road.

Forget everything you think you know about blockchain. You might have heard that this “disruptive” technology is comparable to “the internet revolution of 1996.” This definition is often utilized to explain blockchain to a wider audience how important the technology is, in simpler but more thrilling terms. But is that definition accurate? Until now, crypto experts haven’t been able to agree on what blockchain real value is to customers, other than its similarities to the internet revolution of the ‘90s. My approach is slightly different, but not less revolutionary: successful blockchain platforms are meant to follow a path similar to Linux, which paved the road to creating one of the world’s most successful open-source projects in history, Android.

But first, let’s explore how I became involved with the technology that is steadily transforming from a trend into a must-have for all startups, VCs, and enterprises alike.

The source of inspiration: The Linux experience and how it paved the road to Android’s creation

Even the most basic internet user has heard of Linux. Although most people have no idea what it does exactly, Linux is the most utilized open-source platform and it’s the underlying technology that powers most of the world’s IT systems.

For the last 20 years, I’ve helped customers adopt open-source platforms based on the Linux project. I became an expert at helping companies discover, experiment, and implement these open-source platforms like Linux in their business strategies. Often, these implementations were made at the expense of replacing Unix systems sold to them by bigger names (such as IBM, HP, and Oracle) with tailored Linux systems. In 2001, my team helped Nokia’s advanced mobile phone division run a version of Linux on Nokia’s new innovative mobile phone architecture. The core maintainer of the software refused. Years later, under the guidance of Google, a new project based on the same Linux Kernel emerged: Android, the world’s most successful open-source consumer project in history.

All these years working in open-source taught me a few lessons on how a new technology expands in the market. Most importantly, it gave me the tools to recognize when it’s time to embrace Linux-like technologies, and I believe blockchain is meant to be the new open-source technology spreading across enterprise-IT business environments.

A paradigm shift: Why blockchain is the new Linux and not the new internet

This is not only great news for Android lovers and tech-savvy people. Apple fans will also benefit from utilizing IT systems that implement blockchain-based technology as a new open-source phenomenon. Regardless of the ICO fever we witnessed throughout 2017 and the millions of dollars blockchain-based projects secured in investments, the technology hasn’t taken off and reached the widespread adoption that was expected. As we leave behind a promising 2018 and begin an uncertain 2019 for the crypto community, public blockchains still haven’t driven any consumer use. But Linux did not become important because regular people used it, the mainstream audience felt more comfortable with more expensive and less powerful alternatives such as Microsoft and MacOS. Instead, Linux became the underlying infrastructure that powered Android and most IT systems.

SEE ALSO: IoT and blockchain are ready to drive a manufacturing revolution

So why do I expect blockchain to take the same direction that Linux did?

Because we are experiencing a phase of data overload: more customer data than ever before is in the hands of only a few digital players such as Google or Amazon. These few companies have exclusive access to most valuable and personal information, and they even dare to use it for their own marketing campaigns. Most importantly, even with some of the world’s most advanced IT systems, data still gets compromised. Companies are starting to realize that open-source technology (like software did with Linux) will enable much needed trustless environments. Data will be put in the hands of all parties involved, and not only a few big corporations. Blockchain will allow businesses to share sensitive data like supply-chain registries, transaction books, and consumer data effectively and securely without involving a middleman. Distributed ledgers have the power to transform IT systems by providing them with tools to dictate how much they trust other parties.

It takes a deep understanding of open-source technology to properly implement its strengths into a business strategy, such as a product release, or incorporate it into a platform that requires a merger with another technological source. While it’s true that a sound education can teach an engineer everything he needs to know about open-source, there is still no better way to understand the details behind the tech than to experience it first hand. My personal and professional trajectories have resulted in over 20 years of actionable open-source involvement. I have proudly reached a place where I was able to acknowledge that open-source became a limitation and it needed an extra boost, something to catapult it into the modern world, where it could change a variety of industries for the better. It’s time to pivot, and where to? Blockchain.


Phil Zamani

Phil is the chairman of the AERGO Foundation and co-CEO at Blocko, Korea’s largest blockchain infrastructure provider. He has over twenty years of experience in managing open-source businesses and has worked as senior VP at Deutsche Telekom’s cloud business unit, VP of sales and business development at RedHat, and as Global Head of Big Data & cloud models at Banca Santander.

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