Storj project purpose and description
What is Storj?
Storj is a decentralized, open source, file storage solution. Storj uses file sharding, encryption and a hash table built on blockchain to keep user files safe on a peer-to-peer (P2P) network.
The concept behind Storj is to make sure that cloud data storage becomes a private affair, cheaper and faster, which is currently not the case.
There are several limitations that conventional cloud storage solutions like Google Drive and Dropbox have, which Storj is trying to eliminate. Most of these platforms store data in a very redundant manner. The bandwidth from their data centers are often subject to unprecedented attacks, outages and from time to time access to files is restricted.
Besides, the data stored on these platforms is not even private. These companies simply have a lot of control over your files, and how easily you can access them whenever you want to.
What is the problem that Storj solves?
Storj is offering a software solution to a challenge that has in essence always been a hardware problem. Data centers are an important part of the business world today.
Companies need to store data securely. They cannot do this on their own servers, so have to invest in storage from elsewhere. This is where cloud storage comes in handy.
However, the problem with cloud storage as we know it is that it is very expensive. There are very few companies that have been able to convincingly and securely offer these services. These include Dropbox, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon through AWS.
The cost of storage for developers, users, and providers is too high on these platforms. It gets even worse when these storage platforms suffer security breaches or data failure of some sort.
One of the reasons why these systems are expensive is because of the nature of their infrastructure. They have high infrastructural demands, like electricity, networking equipment, and physical data servers. As a result, the companies that offer cloud storage services have to keep spending billions upon billions of dollars each month to maintain their service offers, or to grow their earnings.
How does Storj solve the problem?
Storj protects user files on the nodes and while in transmission. This is done through cryptography and leveraging on some of the benefits of blockchain technology to help encrypt the files.
Storj is an open-source project, which means that it is leveraged on a large and growing community of developers who are devoted to creating apps, tools and eventually help to secure the cloud storage platform.
This is not the first attempt at P2P cloud storage. It has been attempted by virtually any credible player in the industry at the moment.
Storj has a very large community of users, who are referred to as farmers. These are the people who lease out the unused space on their computers, and their bandwidth so Storj customers can store their data in their devices.
All the users are connected through a P2P network. According to Storj, this network is very secure, is up to 10 times faster, and is 50% cheaper than most of the traditional cloud storage solutions that are built on central data centers.
Storj leverages their storage services on transaction ledgers, cryptographic hash functions and public and private key encryption. Storj has brought a revolution in the data space, by allowing users full control of their data, and their devices. There are no central servers that can be compromised.
Storj uses client-side encryption, which means that the only people who have access to the decrypted or unencrypted files are the end users. They also have the encryption keys where necessary. In fact, security has been pitched as one of the strongest selling points for Storj.
The business model
The business model behind Storj is one of the other reasons why it has been a success so far. It is built on compelling simplicity. Individuals need to store their data safely and also be able to access the said data as soon as they need it. These individuals then go ahead and pay for bandwidth and storage as they access and use their data.
Most of the money that is earned from customers is sent to the Storj farmers. The other portion is split between Storj and their partners who have helped the company create demand. This includes open source projects and user-facing file management companies.
Storj, therefore, is like the Airbnb of data storage, or as some would call it, the Uber of data storage. Storj has become one of the biggest data storage companies in the world, but they do not own any data center, neither do they operate one.
Everyone on the Storj platform has something to benefit. Farmers get compensated for access to their storage capacity. Partners, on the other hand, have an additional revenue stream for their business. Storj, therefore, is one of the most effective ways through which companies can institute financial sustainability in their operations.
What makes Storj better than the competitors?
There are several benefits that can be associated with the decentralized storage platform that Storj is offering, which sets Storj apart from the competition.
When it is done properly, broadly decentralized storage is more efficient, resilient, and reliable than any centralized storage platform. To be precise, individual files on the Storj network are encrypted and distributed in more than 84 nodes. They are also sharded and erasure-coded.
More than half of the >84 nodes must fail in order for the file to be inaccessible or lost, which is highly unlikely to happen. Besides, none of the nodes are correlated, which means that they do not share the same power, infrastructure or location.
By design, Storj was built to be one of the most secure cloud storage platforms. The fact that it is decentralized means that there is no central location where all files are stored, which can be the focus of attack. Other than decentralization, all the files on Storj are encrypted. Therefore, for an attacker to have access to the Storj platform, they would have to find all the multiple shards in different nodes all over the world.
This means that the attacker would have to find more than 150,000 unique file locations in at least 200 countries, and in different territories. This is virtually impossible.
In order to retrieve the shards, the attacker would also have to execute an attack that would compromise all these nodes. After that, they would again have to take on the mammoth task of decrypting all the shards, then go through the same process for each of the files.
One of the security experts once described the security at Storj as spreading encrypted sand on an encrypted beach. Storj keeps growing from strength to strength, and with this growth, incredible numbers. As the numbers increase it becomes increasingly difficult for attackers to find individual file shards. Some networks become weaker and more vulnerable as the numbers grow, but the reverse is true for Storj.
Storj has been known to perform well even when using large files, or with a heavy workload. In fact, compared to most of the centralized cloud storage services, Storj easily outperforms them. The reason for this is because Storj allows several nodes to deliver individual files in parallel from the edge simultaneously. In this regard, there is no time when a single network or device becomes a bottleneck for the entire ecosystem.
Storage uses the unused and untapped potential that exists in idle storage capacity online. A lot of farmers do not need to invest in more equipment, unless they feel that they need to, for their own personal reasons, and not for Storj. Other than that, the farmers also do not feel inclined to spend on additional power, bandwidth or manpower. Therefore, Storj is an economical solution for customers, while at the same time providing some good margins to partners, farmers, and the Storj enterprise.
While a lot of projects are leveraged on blockchain, Storj seems to be doing the reverse. There are divided opinions on the use of blockchain since the revolution began. There are some who believe it has been overhyped however, Storj uses blockchain only for the things that they have tried and tested and believe to be efficient.
What this means is that Storj only uses blockchain for computing, trustless interaction, and payments between devices. The team at Storj is focused on creating a distributed system, and the only role that blockchain plays in this is to act as a tool that helps them achieve that.
One of the reasons why Storj is keeping their core functions away from blockchain is that more often, the legal, technical and financial roadmap for most of the blockchain projects are skewed. People are still trying to figure out what their projects are good at and where they can excel in. The one thing that most projects seem to agree on, however, is that they are out to fight Bitcoin and Ethereum for their market share.
One of the challenges that have dogged blockchain platforms in the past is that most of them are too difficult to understand, especially for average users. Blockchain follows a very simple principle. Mathematicians create cryptographic libraries. Developers use these libraries to create products that their users need, without necessarily understanding the libraries. This is how blockchain works. Most developers will never really come to understand how the blockchain works, but they can use it to build apps that will serve their users. The same applies to Storj. Even without working or basic knowledge of blockchain, you can still get the most out of the decentralized cloud storage services.
How can Storj be categorized?
Storj is a distributed cloud storage provider that implements client-side encryption to allow users to share and transfer data without depending on a single third-party storage service.
What’s Storj’s vision on security?
There have been lots of data leaks and security concerns over cloud storage services in the past, and as a result, the issue of security and privacy of data keeps coming up from time to time. Data on Storj is stored in a decentralized manner. For users, therefore, how can they be guaranteed that the devices upon which their data is stored, are safe and free from hacks?
It is simple. Storj is not building a fortress for data storage. Storj is simply an adaptive distributed system.
Whether the farming nodes are secure or not, Storj works just fine. In terms of data protection and security, Storj encrypts all the data before it gets into the Storj network. Therefore, from the word go, no one can be able to read any data without having an encryption key.
All the data on Storj is sharded before it exits the system to the farmers. Every single shard is sent to a different node. Finding the data shards is already a problem on its own. Even if someone were to have an encryption key, he or she would still have a difficult time.
Besides, Storj uses Reed-Solomon erasure coding to create redundant shards. Through this process, even if you were to lose some of the shards, you can still retrieve the file, and redistribute new shards. Therefore, even if many of the farming nodes have been compromised, Storj still makes sure your data is safe.
Examples of Storj use cases/applications
Heroku is a channel partnership with Storj that offers a platform as a service (PaaS) platform for cloud services. Through this PaaS, developers have the benefit of an ecosystem where they can build, test, run and manage all their apps and software completely on the cloud.
Together with Heroku, Storj offers developers one of the best-distributed object storage platforms, backed by an easy implementation, optimized speed, and top-tier encryption.
Storj has also partnered with Microsoft Azure to help in deploying Storj development tools. This, built on years of research, has helped them compete with some of the key players in the market. Together, they have built an interactive storage audit protocol. The network has also been bootstrapped to enable them securely store petabytes of data. There are plans to add certificate generation automation for Storj farmers.