A Detailed Overview of Decentralized Cloud Storage

Decentralized Cloud Storage

The rise of eCommerce, mobile/web apps, IoT, and AI systems has led us to a data-driven era. Every industry and its consumers are creating astounding volumes of data on a regular basis. Businesses adore this data as one of their biggest assets because, when cultivated rightly, it creates various opportunities around customer retention, new product or service creation, brand marketing, risk management, and supply chain handling.

As businesses increasingly engage with data and information, they look for a powerful storage solution to manage their data. Cloud storage solutions from players like Amazon, Google, Dropbox are the popular choices for storing, managing and sharing data. Startups or enterprises prefer choosing cloud storage solutions offered by different hosts because it saves them the expense and effort required to maintain physical storage servers. Organizations can easily store data on the cloud servers of the hosts and ‘pay as they use.’ Real-time sharing or collaboration upon data is another key advantage of cloud storage. 

However, cloud also has one major limitation that it stores data at a centralized location, which gives the cloud host immense power over your data. Your data stored in the cloud can be snooped in, restricted to censorship, disclosed to third parties and can also be lost due to cyber attacks or network failure. 

 

It brings up an important question. Is centralized cloud storage an ideal fit for every business? Though information security is the fundamental need of every organization, certain businesses like finance, health care, supply, and logistics are more reliant on data security. Such businesses often get conflicted with the security and privacy limitations of centralized cloud storage solutions. So, is there any better data storage solution available for these security-focused businesses?

Blockchain has the power of decentralization, and when it is integrated with the strong properties of the cloud, we get decentralized cloud storage. In this insight, we explore more about it, understand its strengths, how it works and why it is the best available storage solution in the current times.     

Table of Content

What is Decentralized cloud storage (DCS)?

In centralized cloud storage, the location of the data matters. You can access data only by identifying ‘where it is’ and not ‘what it is.’ It happens so because your data gets stored at a centralized location on the web. The location of the data is pointed or identified by the URLs or web links. To access the data stored in a centralized cloud, you need to describe its location through a web link. Now, the clear pinning of location can subject data to certain risks:

  • Hackers can also identify the location of users’ data and misuse it 
  • If the data is shifted from a particular location, then that web link gets invalid for data access. 

Decentralized cloud storage is a shift from a location-centric approach to a content-centric approach. Over decentralized cloud storage, you don’t access data by defining ‘where it is.’ Rather you define ‘what it is.’ The concept of location gets invalid in decentralized cloud storage because data is actually not stored in a specific location; it is distributed over a global network.

To understand the storage mechanism of DCS, just think of a simple question. Is your private data, say your investment details, safer when stored on your computer or when stored on Facebook? Of course, it’s more secure when it is on your computer because in that scenario, only you have control over your data; no one else can snoop in on to break your privacy. But, when data is stored in your own computer, it has limitations related to storage space, portability, accessibility from distributed location and peer-to-peer sharing. 

Decentralized cloud storage solves all such problems because it renders your data the privacy and security of a personal computer, and at the same time, it makes your data accessible worldwide. It encrypts, fragments and then distributes the data across multiple hosting nodes(computers) spread worldwide. In simple words, it uses blockchain technology to let you own multiple computers across the globe, where you can store your data and when needed access it from anywhere. Security of your data is assured through encryption. Any centralized host does not control your data; it is not subject to censorship and can’t be hacked because it is fully encrypted before being stored.

Why is decentralized storage critical for a better web? 

  • Location-centric approach

As mentioned above, centralized cloud storage stores data by its location and not by ‘what it is.’ Let’s understand how it applies in the everyday human context. Imagine someone wants to refer you to a book for reading. Telling you the name of the book is of no use. Instead, it would be best if you were told the library’s name, section no., bookcase no., shelf no, and the placement position. If the book is removed from that location, you will not be able to find it, or maybe when you find the book, you may realize that you already have another copy of the book. A Harvard-led study has found that 49% of all web links cited in US Supreme Court opinions are inactive. They are pointing to a location where the content doesn’t exist any longer; maybe it did at some time in the past. The crux is a location-centric approach for storing information or data is not efficient enough. 

  • Content-centric approach

Decentralized cloud storage systems like IPFS, Sia and Storj, facilitate data storing in a different manner. It creates a unique kind of web link that describes the content of the data and not its location. These content-centric links are created using blockchain cryptographic hash that serves as the unique identifier like a fingerprint. By separating ‘location’ from ‘content,’ DCS enables data to free flow in a worldwide peer-to-peer network managed by nodes(computers). You can exchange your files or retrieve your data from anywhere using any of these nodes. You can choose to retrieve data from your trusted nodes only. Let’s deep dive into understanding how decentralized cloud storage works and how it maintains data privacy and security. 

How decentralized cloud storage works?

In DCS terminology, data or file or information, all are referred as an object.

decentralized cloud

Saving file to Decentralized Cloud storage

The process is explained in the diagram above. It involves three key steps:

  • Encryption

When you want to store an object on a DCS, first, every bit of data is automatically encrypted. Only you and those to whom you have granted access permission will be able to decrypt and access the data. Also, you will have the flexibility to revoke the access permission at any point in time. Without valid private keys and permissions, no one can see the data. Different DCS systems can use different encryption algorithms.    

  • Splitting 

Once the objects are encrypted, they are split into smaller pieces, and each piece is indistinguishable from other pieces. Each object splits into 80 pieces, and each piece is stored in separate nodes of different operators located in different geographies. Splitting of objects imparts strong security to your data. You don’t need to trust your DCS provider because they can’t see your data even if they want. After all, it is all segregated into pieces. One has to reconstitute a minimum of 29 pieces to read your data, which is impossible without having the private keys and your access permissions. 

  • Globally distributed

Picking up on the previous point, the split pieces of the object is stored over a global network of Storage Nodes. It simply means your data or object is never stored in one place. Data breaches, outages, and network downtime can bother your data. These nodes are chosen randomly based on their local latency and reputation. 

Retrieving files from Decentralized Cloud Storage

For retrieving or reconstituting a file from the distributed Network. 29 out of 80 split pieces must be put together. One node getting offline doesn’t impact the process of retrieval. 

How can LeewayHertz offer decentralized cloud storage solution? 

To help businesses and developers overcome the privacy and security shortcomings of centralized storage systems, LeewayHertz offers a decentralized storage solution that facilitates data storage and pinning on the IPFS network. It is a solution built for the convenience of every developer. They can add and migrate new data to LeewayHertz DCS without making any extensive code changes. Our solution offers better ownership and control over data by providing benefits like encryption by default, end-to-end privacy, speed, consistent performance, and superior security. It offers easy APIs, supports file infrastructure for NFTs and facilitates faster access and retrieval of content.

Benefits of our Decentralized Cloud Storage Platform

  • Security

With features like in-built automatic encryption, data splitting, and global distribution, our DCS solution renders your data the maximum possible security and privacy against any data breaches.  

  • Private

You get complete ownership and control over your data. Only you can decide who will access your data by granting them permission access. The data stored will be end-to-end encrypted, so no one, including us, can snoop into your data. 

  • Cloud compatible

Our decentralized cloud storage solution works with cloud tools you use and deploys within minutes using cloud platform storage services including Azure, S3, and Google Cloud.

  • Open-source

Our product is completely open-source. Expert software developers from different domains contribute to our platform. Anyone enthusiastic about building on decentralized cloud storage using blockchain can collaborate with us.

Endnote

Centralized storage systems may seem functional, but their shortcomings are also surfacing up eventually. Decentralized cloud storage embodies an alternative and new-age storage solution that is more security & privacy oriented. DCS is an emerging technology that holds potential but is also surrounded by various myths around it. Some say it can’t be real; then, some think that data will be lost if a node goes offline. Many believe that data distribution makes it slow, and some question how is data storing in other’s computers can be safe?  However, DCS is a completely viable solution. Blockchain powers its fundamentals like decentralization and security to bring trust into the system by making it trustless. In the real-world, DCS systems are already in use. None the less, more research and development practices are needed in this area; it is the universal fact that applies to DCS just as it applies to any booming technology. 

If you are looking for a decentralized cloud storage solution for your business or want to build on DCS, we are delighted to ask you to collaborate with us. Our DCS is developer-friendly and enterprise-requirement-centric. Ask for a free demo.

 

Author’s Bio

Akash Takyar
Akash Takyar
CEO LeewayHertz
Akash Takyar is the founder and CEO at LeewayHertz. With the experience of building over 100+ platforms for startups and enterprise allows Akash to rapidly architect and design solutions that are scalable and beautiful.
Akash's ability to build enterprise-grade technology solutions has attracted over 30 Fortune 500 companies, including Siemens, 3M, P&G and Hershey’s. Akash is an early adopter of new technology, a passionate technology enthusiast, and an investor in AI and IoT startups.

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