Blockchains have far-reaching consequences for nearly every sphere of human industry. From the financial industry to real estate, advertising and even food technology, blockchains have the potential to revolutionize existing systems for the better. But perhaps one its biggest impacts is going to be in revolutionizing the cloud storage industry. That is because there is a lot that can be improved in the current centralized model of cloud storage so let’s take a look at how Blockchains can improve it.
The Current Cloud Storage Market
Recent estimates have put the growth of the cloud storage market at very high rates for the next few years. According to a recent Markets and Markets report, the cloud storage market will become $90 Billion Dollars industry by the year 2022. The market is expected to grow with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 23.7% during the forecast period (2017–2022). The increase in demand for cloud storage solutions is expected to come from a wide variety of factors as web services become more commonplace. Internet of Things (IoT), increased enterprise demand, and more consumer demand is going to be some of the biggest causes of the increased demand.
While the existing cloud storage solutions can meet the demands of the increasing pressure, there are several shortcomings of these suppliers. For starters, these centralized systems are expensive to use and quite taxing on the environment. To guarantee the security and speed of the data storage, these companies have to maintain massive data centers and content delivery networks (CDN) across the world. These data centers use a lot of electricity to operate and are a significant contributor to global warming. Additionally, data centers use a lot of batteries, coolants, air conditioning, diesel fuel and contribute a lot to electronic waste as hardware regularly becomes obsolete. When users upload their private data on the cloud, it is susceptible to all kinds of hacks that plague large companies. Some of the biggest names in cloud storage like Facebook, Equifax, and others have reported large-scale data breaches in the recent months. Security breaches are a real concern for centralized data storage systems as they have a single point of failure. It only takes a few bad actors to conspire against the service to coordinate an attack. Therefore, a decentralized blockchain based solution is useful for security and sustainability.
The Decentralized Paradigm
Blockchains have enabled us to create unique new marketplaces for commodities like data and file storage. For file storage, blockchains allow users to share their excess storage with other users in order for monetary compensation. Since the hard drive space already exists, no new capital has to be invested in order to set up a data centre. This makes the decentralized file storage system more environmentally friendly.Some of the leading blockchain based file storage solutions include:
- FileCoin – FileCoin completed one of the biggest ICOs in the world in summer 2017 by raising $52 million in a pre-initial coin offering (ICO) sale and $205 million in the actual ICO – the largest ICO in the world. FileCoin employs Proof of Replication in order to function and works on top of the Inter-Planetary File System (IPFS). FileCoin lets users rent out their unused hard disk space in order to earn FileCoin. FileCoin is still in development and is already eyeing enterprise-grade adoption.
- Sia Network – Sia is one of the few projects in the cryptocurrency space that has a working product. Sia uses its P2P network to store data on hosts with excess storage capacity and pays the hosts for the work that they do on the network. The Sia Network has close to 5 Petabytes of storage available on over 1000 hosts spread across 50 countries. In order to ensure retrievability, Sia makes 50 copies of every file and encrypts and distributes it among its hosts. Not only is the storage more secure compared to centralized services like AWS, it is also 10 times cheaper than them. Sia lets hosts determine their own prices, and the current prices cost $2 per month per terabyte. By comparison, Amazon Web Services (AWS) charges $20 per terabyte per month for archival data storage. For enterprise capacities of 100TB, AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure all charge $2,000 per month while Sia charges $200 a month for the same storage capacity. This makes for a huge advantage over these centralized players and gives Sia a shot a real-world adoption.
- Storj – Storj is a competitor to Sia and FileCoin which works on roughly the same principles as both of them. Storj differs in that it only charges users for what they use. Storage is priced at $0.015 per GB per month while Bandwidth is priced at $0.05 per GB per month. This is a more equitable payment system where users do not get charged for unnecessary bandwidth use. This means that Storj is a better choice for people who want to put their data in cold storage and only download sparingly.