Blockchain Applications in Enterprise Storage
Blockchains are most well-known for their use in cryptocurrencies (primarily Bitcoin and Ethereum), but the possibilities for blockchain technology are virtually endless, reaching far beyond just the realm of crypto. In this article, we’ll be taking a dive into enterprise storage and how blockchain technology can be applied to large-scale storage systems.
SearchStorage defines enterprise storage as “a centralized repository for business information that provides common data management, protection and data sharing functions through connections to computer systems”. They’re a crucial part of any large business, making it possible to manage, protect, and share all their precious data. However, they’re also expensive to set up, costly to maintain, require lots of room, and are susceptible to cyberattacks and data breaches. For this reason, many companies have instead turned to cloud storage solutions, that is, storage capacity that’s been purchased by another large cloud service provider. Currently dominated by the likes of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, we rely on these cloud server providers to access technology and services we constantly use in our day-to-day lives including web pages, streaming services, smart devices, online video games, and more.
As necessary as these cloud server providers are, they are not without their vulnerabilities. Even massive tech companies have their flaws. Because they are centralized (based around a central server and controlled by one entity) like regular enterprise storage, these cloud servers only have one point of failure, which means they are more prone to complete outages and hacks. They also come with a lack of privacy over your data and their owners have the power to block or censor anything they see fit.
Recently, with the advent of blockchain technology and the growing demand for a more decentralized Web, we’re seeing a novel approach to cloud storage systems through up-and-coming projects that are utilizing decentralized peer-to-peer networks, each hoping to be an alternative to—or a helping hand to—today’s established giants.
Of the handful of decentralized cloud data storage networks available today, the most popular ones are the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), Filecoin (which runs off of IPFS), Storj, and Sia. Each utilize a blockchain-powered infrastructure coupled with a distributed peer-to-peer network to ensure file uploads and downloads are secure and accessible. Not only that, but they’re also highly scalable, efficient, and immutable, meaning every record is recorded on their respective blockchain and cannot be edited or tampered with. In each of these networks (with the exception of IPFS which is free to use), clients who wish to store and retrieve their data pay storage providers using the network’s native cryptocurrency token. Additionally, these storage providers earn tokens as an incentive for contributing their unused hard drive space to the system.
While operating at a somewhat small scale at this time, it’s not out of the question for this type of blockchain-based decentralized cloud storage technology to be integrated into the enterprise storage industry sometime later down the line. With the data demands of the Internet constantly increasing, whether one of these projects decides to partner with an existing cloud service provider, or perhaps grows to overtake them entirely, we are sure to see an exciting future ahead for blockchain-powered cloud storage networks as time goes on.
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