A network in which the data and applications are dependent on multiple sources, as opposed to one location.
In a distributed network, data, computing tasks, and applications are spread across several (often many) machines, which communicate with and depend on each other. Distributed networks are established with the intention of spreading out work and sharing resources.
Distributed networking is very useful in removing or reducing bottlenecks associated with computing tasks. They are a highly efficient way of sharing resources — indeed, in most cases it will be more efficient to expand a network than to increase the hardware capabilities on individual nodes on a network of a smaller size. Additionally, distributed networking provides much higher levels of fault tolerance, and these levels increase with the size of the network.
There are several forms of distributed network, based on different types of computing. For example, client/server distributed networking is the basis of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP,) on which the web is built.
A distributed network might also be said to be decentralized. In these situations, every node (computer) on the network can be used for any task requested by any other node — leveraging unused computing power from idle machines. Decentralized distributed networking is the basis for blockchain technology.
Decentralized distributed networking allows for the operation of blockchains, which rely on the distribution of data and the mutualization of computing power. This form of networking also provides major benefits for those seeking anonymity, which is an important cornerstone of cryptocurrency and blockchain projects.
These networks are seen by many as the next frontier for the web, forming the basis of projects such as the DApp ecosystem on Ethereum, and many other crucial parts of the emerging Web3 landscape. However, networks of this sort are also becoming more popular among large businesses and other organizations that wish to establish their own solutions for cloud computing or data sharing.