Blockstream launches Bitcoin mining solution
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Blockstream revealed its foray into the mining infrastructure-as-a-service industry through a blog post in which Blockstream CIO Chris Cook and CSO Samson Mow announced the launch of the company’s enterprise mining solution and Blockstream mining pool.
**Blockstream’s contribution to the ecosystem**
Blockstream will support the growth of the Bitcoin ecosystem by encouraging the entry of new parties into the mining landscape.
“Mining equipment co-location in our purpose-built data centers is designed to meet the needs of institutional and enterprise customers. Our hosting services support the fast deployment of virtually any type of Bitcoin mining equipment and provide customers with complete control over their mining operations,” said Cook and Mow.
Mining infrastructure-as-a-service is the latest in a long line of innovative solutions built with the intention to support the greater Bitcoin ecosystem. Blockstream has a long history developing software innovations designed to improve, scale and strengthen the Bitcoin network.
The firm pioneered the concept of pegged sidechains and a few years after the publication of the whitepaper explaining the technology, Blockstream launched the first sidechain on the Bitcoin network, called the Liquid sidechain. The company runs Blockstream Satellite, a network that broadcasts the Bitcoin blockchain around the world 24/7 for free, protecting against network interruptions and providing anyone in the world with the opportunity to use Bitcoin.
**A stand against mining centralization**
While Blockstream is only now launching its enterprise-scale mining-as-a-service infrastructure, the firm has been supporting the Bitcoin network as a miner since 2017. The startup revealed that its decision to join the network of miners securing the Bitcoin blockchain was motivated by fears of growing centralization within the mining ecosystem.
In 2017, a concern within the Bitcoin community was the growing threat from mining-focused technology innovations such as ASICBoost technology. Additionally, it seemed the community could not collectively rally behind any of the proposed responses to challenges such as the SegWit debate. As a result, many worried that a section of miners would be able to create a situation where they could wield a disproportionate amount of influence over the Bitcoin network.
For Bitcoin to maintain its position as a decentralized, censorship-resistant cryptocurrency, it is critical that the mining network is as varied, diverse, and distributed as possible. Mow and Cook reiterate this stating: “We firmly believe that bitcoin holders and businesses involved in Bitcoin should take part in mining themselves, to help maintain the decentralized security of the Bitcoin network.”
To counter its concerns over mining centralization, Blockstream created a strategy to minimize the influence of any one region or party over the Bitcoin network. Blockstream began to explore locations for the setup of mining operations. Settling on Canada’s Quebec region before it rose to its current wildly popular status, Blocksteam leverages the area’s cheap and readily available hydropower energy to power its mining activities.
It is important to note that Canada, along with Iceland, is leading the charge on the reduction of an over-reliance on Asian energy sources for the Bitcoin network.
As it stands, concerns over the danger of centralization on any portion of the Bitcoin ecosystem continue to be a threat. At the recently concluded _Bitcoin 2019 Conference_ in San Francisco, the value of decentralization as a security feature came into sharp focus. The CEO of Genesis Mining, Marco Streng, said that the centralization of the bitcoin mining network remained a significant concern.
To provide reliable operational support for the bitcoin mining community and any would-be miners, Blockstream provides a turnkey solution designed to minimize the high barriers to entry faced by prospective miners.
Infrastructural design complexities, as well as human resource and cost considerations, are streamlined into packages complete with “enterprise-class colocation services enabling the customer to monitor and control their mining equipment with complete transparency.”
Users of Blockstream’s mining colocation service will have access to facilities to remotely operate and manage their mining equipment. Additionally, Blockstream will help provide operational support in terms of logistics such as procurement and delivery of mining equipment.
Similarly, Blockstream’s mining-as-a-service package also includes the design and build of custom mining rigs, complete with support from onsite technicians in the event of downtime.
Lastly, Blockstream enables its customers to manage their miners remotely via a control panel that delivers real-time analytics and control over each device.
Blockstream’s self mining operation is an impressive showcase, representing less than 1% of the global hash rate of the Bitcoin network. The firm is looking to provide the same level of service to its clients. It has now secured over 300MW and hardware from a varied array of manufacturers across the globe. Blockstream’s new mining infrastructure service has already secured two high profile customers namely the Fidelity Center for Applied Technology and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.
Furthermore, Blockstream announced the launch of its own mining pool alongside the Blockstream Mining colocation service. The Blockstream Pool is the world’s first production mining pool utilizing the BetterHash protocol. BetterHash is an improved mining pool protocol designed by the firm with the aim of helping individual miners increase their control over the choice of which transactions are included in their blocks. In theory, the protocol will help reduce the influence wielded by the operators of large mining pools as smaller parties will still have their say. Following a successful run on Testnet for a year, the Blockstream Pool will initially be available only to Blockstream Mining customers.
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