Why the Metaverse Needs to be Cloud-Native Part 2: Interoperability, Scalability and Security

Building the open metaverse requires a powerful infrastructure for creating, scaling, and distributing complex virtual worlds into a single persistent ecosystem. Such an infrastructure will have to be able to process and store huge amounts of data while producing a performant and secure experience for the end user. Cloud-native distributed computing is achieving such benefits for companies in a range of industries – but has its potential for enabling the open metaverse been fully explored?

18 July 2022
Anthony Tomlins

Developers of the open metaverse seek to create a new paradigm in computing and the internet that enables virtual worlds to synergise meaningfully with our everyday lives. 

At its core, the open metaverse is about building virtual environments that are performant, engaging and secure enough to drive mass adoption in a variety of social, creative, industrial and economic use cases. By linking these virtual worlds into a single seamless ecosystem, users will be able to retain a sense of persistent personal identity and sovereignty that is not possible across today’s fragmented virtual worlds. This persistence unlocks new possibilities for commerce, entertainment, work and learning, as the virtual worlds of the metaverse are brought into closer alignment with our activities in the ‘real world’.

The idea of the metaverse has been around for a long time, but it has only recently gained traction in the mainstream as a distinctly achievable reality. Of all the technologies that have prompted this, including advancements in XR, 5G, and blockchain, advancements in the ability to build cloud-native distributed applications is arguably the most important.

This is because distributed cloud computing provides a highly flexible layer of IT infrastructure that enables access to on-demand compute-power, storage and networking capabilities for managing and deploying data in far greater quantities and with more agility than previously possible. The ability to build applications with cloud-nativity as a first principle, as opposed to building them first in isolation and then harnessing them to the cloud by way of intermediary processes like containerisation, allows them to take full, frictionless advantage of the cloud’s inherent benefits. Given the scale, interactivity and accessibility expected of the metaverse, a fully cloud-native infrastructure remains the first viable pathway to its fruition.

Is Cloud Computing ready for the metaverse?

We are still uncovering the true potential of cloud computing and the types of applications that can be built atop it. At Hadean, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to unlock cutting-edge efficiencies and capabilities for cloud-native simulation and data-handling applications. Through our work, we have seen a strong uptake in the use of cloud-native infrastructures by enterprises across a range of industries, with huge impacts on their ability to optimise their operations and push the boundaries of their own use cases.

However, the situation today is still that most companies are using cloud computing to build and deploy their applications in isolation from each other. As such, its potential for being used as infrastructure for interlinking applications from a variety of organisations in an open metaverse has not been widely explored.

This is a matter of risk aversion and lack of common standards rather than the availability of the technology. Enterprises that have taken pioneering steps in harnessing the flexibility of cloud-native infrastructures for connecting applications and users in frictionless cloud-hosted ecosystems soon find synergies and network effects being achieved.

The fact that these advantages are being explored in a broad range of industries, including enterprise and defence, goes a long way to validating the vision of a multifunctional open metaverse that is highly practical and synchronous with the real world. It also shows that the metaverse is not simply about creating immersive virtual worlds, but rather about distributing and integrating a full range of specialised digital systems in an optimised and synergistic fashion.

For the open metaverse to reach its potential, developers must have access to an infrastructure that is both designed to support their requirements and flexible enough to maintain interoperability with a range of heterogeneous systems. With the right expertise, frameworks and standards in place, cloud-native infrastructure is ready to fulfil that role.

Requirements of an open metaverse: Interoperability, Scalability and Security

The formation of the Metaverse Standards Forum has signalled a strong intention to accelerate the process of establishing common standards and protocols for building the open metaverse. By and large, discussions have centred on three core requirements: interoperability, scale and security. Cloud-native infrastructure provides a platform for achieving these requirements at metaverse-ready levels that is not possible on legacy infrastructure.

Interoperability

At the forefront of Metaverse Standards discussions, interoperability in the open metaverse calls for universal buy-in to certain standard protocols, data formats and economic paradigms that would permit heterogenous virtual environments to integrate seamlessly with each other. Establishing such standards will provide developers with a clear foundation for building worlds and assets that can fit into a wider ecosystem.

Concepts that are central to the vision of the open metaverse, including economic interoperability, persistence of identity and ownership, and synchronicity between worlds, will require a powerful technological backbone. Developers will need to ensure that their virtual worlds are compatible with a range of third-party assets owned by users, and able to call on the data required to render them.

Cloud-native infrastructure enables interoperability in the following ways:

  • Frictionless communication with large-scale decentralised data stores for persistence and transferability of assets between worlds
  • Seamless access to the compute power required for rendering multitudes of heterogeneous assets smoothly
  • Flexible architecture for permitting integration of third-party data
  • Ability to distribute huge amounts of live data and maintain synchronicity between disparate worlds

For more info on how Hadean is taking on the challenge of interoperability, see here.

Scalability

A fully realised open metaverse promises to be nothing if not vast and vibrant. In order to build the open metaverse, developers must work with an infrastructure that is well-poised to take on massive compute loads as its ecosystem of virtual worlds expands and complexifies. This is a task that is far beyond the localised infrastructures powering many of today’s siloed applications.

A metaverse-ready infrastructure must be capable of handling masses of live data, with the ability to deploy a multitude of compute-intensive systems into immersive virtual environments populated by huge amounts of concurrent users. Furthermore, the metaverse will be accessed and engaged with via a variety of hardware; meaning that much data will have to be processed remotely and streamed directly to clients where needed. Only then will the metaverse produce living, breathing worlds that integrate meaningfully into the lives of a broad range of users.

With the right technologies in place, cloud-native infrastructure enables scale in the metaverse in the following ways:

  • Seamless access to the power needed to render virtual worlds with millions of entities as well as complex AI and physics systems
  • Efficient, real-time allocation of compute power to areas of the virtual world that need it most
  • Remote processing and streaming of live rendered data to clients on a variety of hardware
  • Leveraging edge networking to enable concurrency between thousands of players at one time
  • Flexible architectures that permit continuous scaling and expansion as users and their activities grow

For more info on how Hadean enables unprecedented scale, complexity and connectivity in metaverse worlds, see here.

Security

The question of security in the metaverse is paramount to its adoption, particularly as industry and government gets involved, and even casual users become more responsible and empowered in the management of their personal data.

The all-encompassing, persistent nature of an open metaverse that is intimately tied with our everyday lives precludes huge amounts of sensitive data and economic value being created, stored, and transferred fluidly. This presents an unprecedented challenge to cybersecurity which must be addressed if people and organisations are going to be willing to participate.

On top of this, there is a fundamental interest in ensuring a pleasant and safe experience for all users, requiring systems for keeping users, including children, safe from both psychological and physical harm.

Cloud-native infrastructure helps to bolster security in the metaverse in the following ways:

  • Dynamic provisioning of computing resources prevents overload from DDoS attacks
  • The flexibility of cloud-native infrastructures allows developers to identify and patch vulnerabilities on the fly
  • Transparent, decentralised data storage will facilitate data forensics and discovery of data misuse
  • Real-time data aggregation protocols will safeguard privacy and anonymity for individual users
  • Cross-world identity verification will protect against bots and impersonators, as well as enabling universal blacklisting of bad actors

For more info on Hadean’s contribution to security in the metaverse, see here.

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