Storj: New Protocol, New Opportunities
Fri, Apr 14, 2017
Three years ago we won a hackathon, threw together a website, and set out to change the way the world interacts with data. Since then we’ve accomplished much of our original vision. Supported by our community, we’ve built a decentralized storage network of thousands of farmers, expanding further everyday. We’ve grown to employ over a dozen people, opened a second office, and learned a lot of hard lessons along the way to building the world’s largest distributed cloud storage platform. Now, we can take a deep breath and consider the future of Storj over the next three years.
Cloud storage is broken. Excessive centralization has created systemic problems and a large portion of the world’s data is now subject to the risk of the “Big Three” (AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platforms). Cloud storage is not private. The “cloud” is just a collection of other people’s computers and more often than not, the data stored on these services is not encrypted and is routinely hacked.
We are passionate about decentralization, and we love free and open-source software. Our mission is to rethink cloud storage, to provide the security, privacy, and transparency it’s missing. That’s why we have built an open-source, distributed cloud platform that aims to fundamentally change the way people and devices own data.
Three weeks ago we announced our migration from Counterparty to the Ethereum platform. When we first considered making the move, we were primarily concerned with providing an improved user experience via access to better wallets and tools. As we explored the idea, we realized that Ethereum’s smart contracts and other advanced features could be used to shore up our weaknesses and augment our strengths. Today we’d like to talk a bit about our plans for the future of Storj.
- Dead Simple File Storage - Hundreds of people have requested this, and we’re excited to make this dream come true. For the past several months we’ve been working with a partner with a massive install base to create a graphical user interface for Storj. We expect to announce this partnership very soon.
- More User and Developer Tools - We started off planning to build a decentralized Dropbox, but since then our ambitions have grown. Instead of targeting a specific application, we decided to construct the foundation layer beneath them all. The result is a production-ready cloud object store. We’ve already created native and in-browser tools to store and retrieve files. As we continue to build more tools to support more use cases, we plan to reach the goal of thousands of intercompatible file storage apps interacting as equals in the Storj network.
- Smart Contract Integrations - When we started building Storj, smart contracts were just an idea. They are now a powerful tool for the management of distributed systems but present us with a number of difficult performance tradeoffs. Blockchain-based smart contracts cannot manage distributed storage at scale by themselves, but used in conjunction with the Bridge model they become quite compelling. In the future, Storj will add smart-contract layers for audit verification. We’re also exploring on-chain structures that will allow the next generation of applications on Ethereum to use Storj as a native data layer, as well as smart-contract enabled economic reputation and bonding systems.
- Federated Bridges - Storj Bridges provide a set of decentralized access points to the network. Each Bridge helps manage the state of files that are uploaded. This binds clients to specific Bridges. To alleviate this drawback, in the future Storj will take advantage of audit-verification smart contracts to create a federated file management system distributed across a group of Bridges. This will allow clients and applications to use any Bridge rather than relying on a specific one.
- Micropayments - As the number of transactions to farmers increase on the network, we will need to implement real-time payments with micropayment channels. The Raiden Network is leading the charge in the Ethereum ecosystem, and we plan to work closely with this project to create practical payment channels that will benefit the entire community.
- Community Collaboration - As part of the upcoming migration plan, we want to create a better balance between the Storj Community and Storj Labs. First, we will be releasing a solution to solve the token supply imbalance. Second, over the next few months we will be working with community leaders to build processes and tools that will help the community self-organize and have more direct access to resources to build cool and useful things like documentation and apps.
We would like to thank you for your support over the past few years. You’ve helped us take this crazy idea and turn it into the world’s largest distributed cloud storage network. We’ve come a long way together, and we are excited to continue on this journey with you!