In today’s world of massive data troves, the demand for cloud storage has never been greater. Analysts, in fact, predict that the storage market could surpass $65 billion by 2020, a 28 percent compound annual growth rate.
So what is driving this? General consensus point to a number of factors including the growth of need for cost-effective storage, the increased adoption of cloud technologies and mounting security and privacy concerns.
Enter Storj Labs, (pronounced: “storage”) a decentralized platform that’s revolutionizing the global cloud storage ecosystem by employing robust security, privacy and transparency for its end user customers. The company’s recent move out of beta status has ignited efforts to transition users of the platform to a robust set of commercial support, billing and payment plans. Moreover, Storj is building channel partnerships with cloud platform providers Heroku and Microsoft Azure as a part of a comprehensive push to further their strategic aims.
A major factor behind Storj’s initial ascension was the company’s participation in a 2014 hackathon. It was here where it became one of the first projects of its type to show how cryptographic tokens can be utilized to support decentralized applications and infrastructure. Today, it is arguably the first decentralized, end-to-end encrypted cloud storage that uses blockchain technology and cryptography to secure files, all while being protected from outside monitoring and downtime.
Storj is thereby well positioned to address the needs of a burgeoning cloud storage market where the volume of data globally is growing exponentially All of this data is primarily consolidated among three major players: Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Storj is decentralizing this market by bringing the cutting-edge qualities of blockchain technology onto the scene.
Open source in its delivery model, Storj is on a quest to fundamentally change the way people and devices own data. The company is fueled by a peer-to-peer network and community of "farmers" (users who rent out their hard drive space to other users for pay), providing a secure, cost-effective and high-performance alternative to prevailing cloud storage solutions. Storj users' data is managed in a decentralized way and is securely stored through cryptography and Ethereum blockchain technology.
All of this underscores Storj’s main value proposition of fostering a cloud storage environment that’s 10 times faster and 50 percent less expensive than traditional cloud storage, all while making it more decentralized, accessible and secure for all Storj users.
It appears that Storj is already making significant strides toward these aims, having attracted a dedicated user and community base of 20,000 data storage farmers and about 19,000 general users.
Storj also possesses a solid back-end technical solutions foundation that serves as the engine for its continued forward momentum. This has set the stage for the next phase of their growth trajectory, which involves bolstering the front end, user experience element of the platform.
Cloud Acceleration and Security
Leaders at Storj say that the key to achieving faster and less expensive cloud storage is in taking advantage of what is known as “parallel downloads.” In other words, rather than pushing the entire file through in a single download, Storj takes a more Bittorrent-like approach. File shards come in from different farmers all at once, as fast as one can download them, and the file is rebuilt on the fly. So if eight people deliver shards at once, they can upload faster than one can download.
In the end, this means faster service unless a slow data farmer causes a bottleneck. Storj is focused on identifying slow farmers and optimizing shard distribution to ensure that all of the users get the speed they want. A full-time data scientist is working on this problem with plans to add more resources to this in the near future.
Another area of targeted focus for Storj is security. The malicious “ransomware” attacks that recently throttled global computers underscore the need for solutions that mitigate the intent of nefarious actors seeking to put cloud storage information at risk.
According to a study by the American International Group, 9 in ten global cyber security and risk experts believe that cyber risk is at a serious level with significant attacks against major companies likely to occur in 2017. When asked to rank potential scenarios, respondents listed a mass distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on a major cloud provider as the most likely major event.
Storj’s solution does not involve building a fortress for data. Rather, as a next-generation adaptive distributed system, Storj functions irrespective of whether the farming nodes are secure. Here’s how it works: To ensure the protection of the data, data is encrypted before it enters the network. This prevents potential intruding eyes from reading the encryption key. The data is then sharded before being forwarded on, with each shard sent to a separate node.
In the end, this makes it virtually impossible to find all of the shards, even if one has the key. So, in that sense, Storj offers one step up in security from that found with the traditional cloud storage models that Amazon, Google Microsoft employ. This is because the system is always one step ahead of any data tampering and never keeps the data and the access points in one space.
Token Sale Sparks Further Momentum
As part of a push to boost user experience and accessibility, Storj recently announced that it will sell $20 million of existing digital tokens concurrent with a forthcoming migration to a new Ethereum-based application token. This token sale which will run from May 19 until June 19 will enable users to participate in the Storj network as well as receive related services from Storj Labs.
The primary intent of this sale is to enable Storj Labs to advance product development and accelerate the rate of innovation in cloud storage, thereby boosting the value of the company’s existing ecosystem capacity. The ultimate goal is to reduce network transaction fees for the community and increase functionality and usability.
What makes this crowdfunding initiative unique is that it is backed by current user engagement with a growing number of products that actually work, and are already available.
“Most of the projects in this space are still in the concept and development stages, so the Storj Token Sale is quite different.” said James Prestwich, Storj co-founder. “People are really excited to participate in our sale, since we already have a working product and a working protocol. We’re really excited about the next generation of cloud storage and our renewed vision to continue to build, scale and upgrade the Storj platform. We always like to have an open and transparent view, and we are really grateful for the ongoing support that’s coming our way from the amazing Storj community.”