The blockchain technology, which has recently been hyped because of the blossoming success of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, is creating disruptions in several quarters—and the data storage industry is not being left behind.
Torontosj, who is a data scientist from Canada and likes teaching people his skills, says that “using blockchain to power data storage applications is what the industry needs to achieve increased performance, efficiency, and security, especially when working with big data.”
The current problem with data storage
Presently, data is one of the most useful assets in the world. The top global Internet companies—such as Facebook, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, and Apple—rely on users’ data to boost their brand success.
This implies that these centralized systems expose your sensitive data to hacks and breaches because they are usually highly susceptible to attacks.
For example, the much-publicized Facebook Cambridge Analytica data breach is believed to have compromised the details of about 87 million people.
The growing trend of data breaches affecting the centralized systems is worrying. Evidently, the traditional approaches for storing data have proved to be incapable of keeping us safe.
A new solution is urgently required.
Here comes the blockchain technology
Essentially, a blockchain refers to a decentralized ledger technology that allows for transactions between two parties to be completed securely, efficiently, and verifiably.
Since a blockchain consists of a series of blocks linked to each other, tampering with any block within the chain will cause the entire blockchain to be invalid, something which is critical for maintaining its security.
The decentralized, distributed nature of blockchain could allow data to be stored across a network of nodes, instead of relying on a central location or entity.
This way, the community could share the storage systems without allowing anyone to compromise other people’s sensitive data.
In a blockchain system, you’ll not need to send your data to a centralized entity for storage; rather, you’ll need to distribute your data across a network in various locations around the world.
Because you stay in control in a decentralized system, your information would be readily available and safe. Currently, the traditional storage systems are extremely centralized, which make them attractive to attackers.
Furthermore, any malfunctioning of the central data storage infrastructure usually leads to extensive damages.
On the other hand, decentralized storage systems may not experience such problems because other nodes distributed geographically across the world could continue to function, even if a single node is compromised.
Blockchain and data is what the world needs to address its increasing data storage problems.
How decentralized data storage could work
Although implementing a blockchain-based storage solution is not immune to problems, decades-mature technologies could be integrated to attain the benefits of decentralization.
Two of such exciting technologies that can be combined are sharding and swarming. Sharding involves cutting the data into several small fragments, which can be transmitted and recalled easily.
Swarming is the technology used for keeping a group of shards together. While a blockchain employs a network of nodes, a decentralized storage employs a collective group of nodes—known as “swarms”—for keeping the data.
Consequently, the swarming technique lowers latency and increases performance because data is retrieved in parallel from the nearest and most convenient nodes—just like a CDN (content delivery network).
Since a swarm is composed of several, geographically distributed nodes in a peer-to-peer network, accessing them using a decentralized application would lead to increased reliability and scalability.
The swarms for storing data would not be owned by a single company; individuals would take charge of controlling and managing the data, giving them the freedom to experience personalized and secure service.
Some companies leading the way
Some brave companies are already breaking the ground in adopting the use of blockchain technology to ensure the future of data storage is decentralized.
Although most of their technologies are still in nascent stages, we can expect to see their full potential in the next few years.
Here are some of them:
- Storj: It is building the next-generation decentralized cloud storage solution that offers enhanced end-to-end encryption.
- Genaro: It is using the innovative blockchain technology to redefine data storage through creating secure and decentralized solutions.
- InterPlanetary File System) IPFS : It is a peer-to-peer filesharing technology that aims to make sharing of data efficient, convenient, and open.
The blockchain technology is capable of revamping the data storage industry. It’s only a matter of time before we can say goodbye to the big centralized oligopolies that have failed to enable us make the most of our data.
Clearly, implementing decentralized data storage solutions promise to provide enhanced security, affordability, scalability, and efficiency in the increasingly data-heavy and data-thirsty world.
What do you think about the possibilities of utilizing the blockchain technology in data storage? Please share your comments below.