Summary

The Holo network is designed to create a distributed system of autonomous agents (by connecting HoloPorts), while providing a bridge to the traditional internet, where centralized platforms have outsized influence. In fact, as we will discuss in this post, these goals are compatible, thanks to the design of the Holo network. Namely, the gateway architecture of Holo allows for secure and private networking today, while enabling decentralized control of the network for a not-too-distant tomorrow.

Highlights

  1. The Holo network, privacy, and security
  2. Designing and implementing decentralized networks
  3. Hosts and end-user benefits

Details

The Holo network, privacy, and security

We want to talk a little bit about how the Holo network fits into our understanding of how Holochain works to protect your privacy and secure your data online. While the HoloPorts that make up the Holo network are built on a framework for truly peer-to-peer interactions, the Holo network itself builds a bridge to the traditional web, where centralized, client-server architectures rule the day. So how does the Holo network serve the needs of both worlds?

First, keep in mind that the Holo network is distinct from the individual HoloPorts that may participate in the network. As Holochain nodes, HoloPorts are autonomous, distributed devices that can store, access, and transmit information to other HoloPorts. This is true for both HoloPort owners as end-users, and for web users whose apps the HoloPorts host.

However, in order to be useful as hosting devices, HoloPorts need to connect to the centralized web. This is where the Holo network fits in. Holo runs gateway servers connecting web users to the HoloPorts that store their data and to the peer-to-peer networks of their apps. They simply are a conduit between a web browser and a HoloPort.

In effect, the Holo network acts as a gatekeeper for traditional web users accessing the Holo network. If you’re familiar with the arguments for and against centralized and decentralized systems, this may raise some concerns. For example, “Will the Holo network be more vulnerable to disruptions or attacks?” Or, “Can participants be assured that their activity won’t be monitored as it is on centralized platforms like Facebook?” Or even, “Will the Holo network be able to scale up as usage increases?”

Designing and implementing decentralized networks

Our approach to these concerns is to design everything in Holo with the ultimate goal of decentralizing every component, mitigating the risks involved with giving anyone gatekeeper powers. Principally, this relates to how HoloPorts connect to one another. HoloPorts are connected via a peer-to-peer VPN to form an internal network, which is why Holo Hosts do not need static IPs.

Holo’s gateways then route a web user’s traffic to their assigned hosts. In many traditional client-server architectures, encryption would be ‘terminated’ at the gateway—it would hold the SSL certificate allowing it to decrypt user data and forward it to the server. On the Holo network, encryption only terminates when data arrives or leaves the HoloPort. Each HoloPort provisions its own personal certificate without involving the Holo gateways. The gateways themselves use Server Name Indication (SNI) extensions to route data without needing to decrypt it, making it impossible for the gateways to snoop on users, since everything passing through is end-to-end encrypted.

Each web user is assigned to multiple redundant HoloPorts, distributed across the globe rather than concentrated in a few data centers owned by one company. In fact, two copies of one user’s data aren’t even guaranteed to be in the same country. Each HoloPort is only responsible for a subset of users, making the network more resilient and reducing the power of any one hosting provider. Furthermore, Holo’s gateway servers run on globally distributed hosting infrastructure, which makes them resilient to high traffic spikes or denial-of-service (DoS) attacks.

Finally, while gateways are all currently run by Holo, we envision that control of these will also become decentralized, thus providing more protection against attacks, bottlenecks, and other interruptions to network operations. Third parties could provide gateway services, allowing HoloPort users to connect to the gateway of their choice, while also reaping the benefits of the broader network. In fact, HoloPorts could even provide this service themselves if they have static IP addresses—which would, incidentally, increase network self-sufficiency and network value. The decentralization we envision might not become an immediate reality; but by laying the groundwork for it now, we can ensure that there won't be any obstacles when it does.

Hosts and end-user benefits

By following this design path, we believe the Holo network will be poised to deliver the greatest value for both hosts and end-users. As a bridge to the traditional internet, people unfamiliar with Holochain will find it easy to learn about what it can do in an accessible format.

Once familiar, developers and users can take full advantage of its capabilities. For hosts, operating within the Holo network will provide the opportunity to learn how to successfully manage HoloPorts in practice. Over time, as decentralization becomes more feasible, hosts will find their own ways to provide value, based on user demand and their own resources. In short, we are creating a pathway to viability for the Holo network.

HoloPort owner?

At this time, the Holo Forum is only open to invited hosts who have pre-purchased a HoloPort. If that’s you, be sure to join and share your experience/feedback on the HoloPort registration process. If not, there is a section of the Holo Forum that is accessible to all and we’ll be adding more users as testing stages are completed.

Holochain Core Concepts and Tutorials

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Building with Holochain? We want to hear from you!

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