To comprehend how far we’ve gone, here’s a picture of an IBM hard drive being loaded into an aeroplane in 1956.
Guess the size of the hard drive. 5 MB! Yeah! Massive 5 MB! Whoops! So huge! 🙂 A 2000-pound drive containing so little space. 5MB is literally the size of jpeg files these days.
In recent years, scaling Big Data storage has been an obsession of tech companies.
Finding a way to store and access data optimally is key to making many life necessities happen. For example, accurately analyzing climate conditions’ data inputs can help warn residents of impending storms and tsunamis. Or finding enough water for the millions of people facing drought in Asia and Africa. So many life-saving use cases.
Where We Currently Are
The Reality of Centralized Web and Data Storage
As much as we argue that the Web was historically built on the premise of decentralization, the reality is that several companies have more-than-normal control over the Web.
Now, we are not talking about Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Those are obvious-too-big-to-fail-tech companies. We’re talking about non-obvious ones like the International Telecommunication Union, The Internet Society, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Here’s a link to an Infographic beautifully depicts this precarious situation.
A Call For A Distributed Web
A couple of years ago, a number of Internet activists gathered at a conference organized by the popular website Internet Archive to talk about the need for a distributed web.
They raised several concerns, like the Web not being reliable and private. The biggest of them all was the fact that the World Wide Web was very fragile
Due to the scalability issues with HTTP, the average lifespan of a webpage is just 100 days. Precious life moments eroded!
Is the Internet Down Today?
Last year, a spate of attacks hit the Internet so much that many sites were down several times. It was so bad that a website dedicated to tracking internet uptime, Isitdownrightnow.com, was down too. Hilarious!
But should this be allowed to occur? Billions of people rely on the availability of a couple of internet services to earn a living and, in some cases, save a life.
All this wouldn’t occur if there were a true decentralization of the Web!
Move Away Google and Amazon: The New Data Kings Are Here
Decentralized Web + Decentralized Cloud Storage: A Promising Marriage
True Decentralization of The Web:
The IPFS is currently the only tested experiment that has proved that decentralization of the Internet was possible. It would be interesting to see what new entrants like brave browser do.
IPFS is a distributed file system that seeks to connect all computing devices with the same system of files.
Here is a concise explanation of what the service offers. It aims to help mitigate the problems faced by HTTP by decoupling data from their original servers, making them permanent. Decentralized distribution after content verification also helps truly secure the Internet’s data.
The first implementation of the IPFS – InterPlanetary File System was Geocities – an obsolete part of the early Internet.
A few years ago, Mozilla partnered with NSF to raise a $2m fund to encourage solutions championing the Internet’s decentralization and making it accessible for all.
As Blockchain and decentralization reach the mainstream, it’s hoped that more solutions will be brought forward to truly decentralize the Web.
Blockchain-Based Decentralized Cloud Storage Solutions:
The Cloud Storage Market is a huge one. Projected to reach a worth of $74.94 billion in 2021, leading tech companies like Amazon, Dropbox, Google, Microsoft, and IBM, amongst others, fight tooth and nail to gain a major market share. However, the billions spent on scaling don’t eliminate the attendant problems with centralized systems.
Over the past few months, several blockchain-based companies have been attempting to tackle these giants squarely. Prominent among them are Sia and Storj.
Both Sia and Storj attempt to leverage the power of the Blockchain to store data in a cryptographically-secured and decentralized manner. This helps prevent the frequent downtime conventional cloud storage companies face during DDOS attacks. Beyond that, both apps seek to create an open-source platform that will bring internet users (called farmers by Storj) willing to rent unused parts of their hard drives and buyers of cloud storage space. This way, the users are always in control.
Other blockchain-based solutions like NXT, Factom, PeerNova, Swarm, FIlecoin and Tierion all seek to tackle one or more several issues in the data storage industry.
The world is slowly gaining consciousness that the centralization of information helps no one. Every day, efforts are being made to improve how we store and access information as humans.
Truth be told, we’ve come a long way and can only improve. In our struggle towards a more open and decentralized world, one can only hope blockchain apps genuinely fulfil their potential.
Over to you
Have you used any of these blockchain-based cloud (data) storage apps, and what’s your current pet peeve with the Internet?