How can CIOs address storage challenges with blockchain?

blockchain imageBlockchain is gaining popularity because of the decentralized nature of the information sharing and the transparency it brings to the entire transaction. With its underlying distributed ledger technology (DLT), blockchain is set to redefine the enterprise storage space.

In DLT, the information is broken down into small segments called data shards. These are encrypted and assigned unique hash, then distributed across multiple nodes. The shards in the decentralized system contain only a certain part of the blockchain’s data and not the entire ledger copy. The data can be accessed and seen by all parties involved in the chain, but the transactions are limited to the relevant nodes. Thus, sharding helps reduce the transactional load and latency in blockchain.

In the context of enterprise storage, it is assumed that the decentralized nodes enable blockchain to deliver more resilient, redundant and economical storage than a centralized cloud.

The decentralized nodes make it extremely difficult for hackers to break into the system. Since each node only stores encrypted fragments of user data and users control their own keys, the system ensures maximum protection against intrusion and privacy violation.

Blockchain storage also brings redundancy by enabling multiple copies of the same data shard at different stages of transactions. In case a piece is removed inadvertently, it can be made available easily.

With blockchain set to emerge as the decentralized web in the near future, enterprise storage will undergo dramatic transformation. The centralized cloud concept will pave way to a distributed network of storage providers ranging from an individual who owns a hard disk to big providers who operate multiple data centers. These storage agents, aka farmers, are rewarded appropriately in cryptocurrencies or other tokens.

Open source DLT storage platforms like Storj Tardigrade are accelerating this transformation across enterprise storage. They use the distributed network of storage nodes provided by people or organizations that are paid for providing storage capacity. Storj is using Ethereum, an open source blockchain platform, to pay those who provide the storage to the network.

Tardigrade has already caught attention from a wide range of storage providers. An example, a startup called Codec Market is evaluating the Tardigrade V3 platform to deliver integrated storage for video compression, as an alternative to traditional cloud and on-premises data storage.

Thanks to DLT, blockchain will surpass cloud storage in terms of the cost savings and efficiency gains through improved security and privacy. The encrypted storage concept is what the industry has been waiting for long since the advent of cloud, which wiped out traditional on-premise storage in just over a decade.

“The $80 billion cloud storage industry is demanding new innovative solutions that lower costs and radically improve security and privacy, without sacrificing performance and reliability. V3 and Tardigrade will change the paradigm for object storage in the cloud,” said Ben Golub, Storj Labs executive chairman, and interim CEO.

“The entire cloud computing industry will be disrupted by blockchain technology in just a few short years,” says BlockApps, a blockchain platform provider, who added that Dropbox and Amazon may even become overpriced and obsolete if they do not find ways to integrate with the advances.

It is estimated that blockchain storage costs can reduce the price of cloud computing between 50 -100 percent.

However, to face the competition, cloud providers are venturing into blockchain space. Amazon Web Services (AWS) has already launched blockchain as a managed service, offering flexible and scalable packages with varying combinations of CPU and memory.

Google has engaged in partnership with blockchain technology providers to give Google Cloud customers access to blockchain. Of late, Google partnered with Cypherium to use its product, Cypherium Enterprise that allows customers to build blockchain solutions on cloud.

With Cypherium Enterprise, cloud customers can implement robust and secure blockchain solutions, delivering rapid transaction speeds for its smart contracts and achieving high-speed data processing from its Java virtual machine, said Sky Guo, co-founder, and CEO of Cypherium.

Cypherium has also been associated with other industry majors like Amazon and IBM.

All of these trends indicate that blockchain is here, and no technology providers can afford a lag in integrating the same in their offerings. For enterprises, blockchain could herald a new era of secure storage, transparent transactions and efficient information processing across a wide range of industry verticals.

Rajani Baburajan