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Building a Decentralized Cloud Storage Solution

Building a Decentralized Cloud Storage Solution Like Storj.io

Estimated read time: 8 minutes
Aran Davies

Aran Davies

Software ExpertDeveloperWriterPhotographer

Interested in building a decentralized cloud storage solution? 

This is one of the areas of IoT infrastructure with the most promising growth potential. The cloud storage market is expected to grow to $222.25 billion by 2027. The market is currently dominated by technology giants Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and IBM.

Currently, cloud computing is a completely centralized environment where the service provider has complete control over the data stored in their cloud.

Developing a decentralized cloud storage solution requires a deep understanding of blockchain technology, encryption algorithms, smart contract implementation, DApps development, etc.

If you don’t have a professional team with this relevant expertise to take on the task, then submit a request for a complimentary discovery call, and one of our tech account managers who managed similar projects will contact you shortly.

In this guide, I will look at how to develop a decentralized cloud storage solution as well as analyze some of the existing providers of decentralized cloud storage services set to become big players in this marketplace.

All these providers use blockchain technology to implement even more secure cloud storage data centers.

A detailed analysis of these decentralized cloud storage providers will give you an idea of what type of market-competitive decentralized cloud storage solution you are going to build.

How to Create a Decentralized Cloud Storage Solution Using the Storj Platform

An illustration of interconnected buildings

Let’s examine how companies can use the Storj platform to create a decentralized cloud storage network. After this, I will analyze the Storj decentralized storage network as an example of a leading decentralized blockchain file storage platform.

Developers trying to build a decentralized network for cloud storage can adopt an easier process by using the Storj toolkit to save massive amounts of time.

There are three main tools, as follows:

StorjShare: This is the reference farming client of Storj. Developers can use this in their proposed decentralized file storage system so that the farmers are able to set up their machines for the network.

The non-technical farmers can use a graphical user interface (GUI) to set various parameters such as the amount of storage space they can share, the location of the storage, crypto payment address, etc.

Each farmer can allow the system to collect their telemetry data so that the system can identify available farming nodes for a new file storage request using this data.

The StorjShare tool also handles contract negotiations, audit responses, and other network messaging. For more technical farmers, there is a command line interface (CLI) available, and the GUI is just a wrapper around the CLI.

The Storj API: Developers will finally need to provide the core service of decentralized file storage in their system, and for this, they can use the Storj API.

When the renters upload their files to the new decentralized cloud storage system, they interact with the system using the REST API.

The API will find the farmers who have earlier set up their farming nodes using the StorjShare, negotiate contracts, and manage audits and payments.

In short, the services that renters access using the simple REST API and the ones farmers access using the StorjShare are all provided by the Storj API and operate in the background.

The API documentation can be accessed here. There is also good documentation on the overall tool kit in the Medium channel of the Storj project.

How to Build a Blockchain-Based Distributed Storage Solution From Scratch

Creating a decentralized storage system from the ground up is a very complex and time-consuming project. Developers need a high level of programming skills if they aren’t using any existing platform like Storj and its APIs.

If your team doesn’t have this expertise then you should seek outside help.

The development team needs the following broad skillset:

  • UI/UX – for designing and developing the UI for the renters and farmers;
  • Networking – to build the P2P network;
  • Encryption – to enable the system to encrypt the data;
  • Database management – to implement sharding of files and patching the files back from the shards;
  • Blockchain decentralized apps (DApps) and smart contracts – to build the decentralized framework that will oversee the decentralized storage solution, including enforcing contracts.

The developers need to accomplish the following while hand-coding:

  1. Develop the UIs for the renters and farmers, including CLI.
  2. Build the P2P network so that the renters can upload their files while the farmers can download and store them on their computers.
  3. Develop the module to encrypt the file before the renter uploads it to the network, with only the renter being able to decrypt the file after getting it back using the private key.
  4. Implement the redundancy in the system: A P2P network may have unreliable farmers, and sufficient redundancy is needed to ensure the file is stored in multiple locations.
  5. There are two distinct concepts that can be used to ensure redundancy in a P2P network, and these are called simple replication and erasure coding.
  6. In this guide, I recommend the simple replication method, where multiple copies replicate in different farming nodes. The reason is that the erasure coding method is highly complex and adds additional overhead to the file upload and download stages.
  7. Implement the sharding of the renters’ file: Developers need to evaluate various sharding options, e.g., sharding by keeping the size of a shard constant and sharding by keeping the number of shards constant.
  8. They need to balance the trade-offs. The development team will also need to build a module to keep track of the shards.
  9. Implement an audit process to prove the file is retrievable from the shards.
  10. Build the blockchain DApp that will run the smart contracts so that the renters can enter into a contract with the farmers, the quality of the farmers’ service can be audited, and the payment can be made (in cryptocurrencies) upon fulfillment of contractual terms and conditions.

This will be a complex project, and we recommend the following learning resources for the developers:

  1. tutorial on how to build a P2P network;
  2. This Hackernoon article on using encryption in an app;
  3. This guide to implementing simple replication in a P2P network;
  4. This guide to understanding and implementing sharding;
  5. The Ethereum development tutorial;
  6. This Blockgeeks online course for Solidity, i.e., the proprietary language of Ethereum for coding smart contracts;
  7. The website dappsforbeginners is for developers to get guidance on how to create DApps.

Examples of Decentralized Cloud Storage Networks

The decentralized cloud storage platform market is most certainly a lucrative one. The potential to disrupt the existing cloud storage behemoths is real and enormous. Blockchain start-ups are already racing to gain market share.

Here are a few examples of such start-ups with decentralized storage solutions:

Storj: In addition to providing the platform I described above, Storj has built impressive decentralized cloud storage capacity, making it the market leader with a massive global network of storage nodes.

It follows the technical and operational model I described above and provides an elegant user experience. Signing up is easy for renters as well as farmers.

Renters can pay in USD while farmers are paid in the STORJ token. This token is built using the ERC-20 standard because the Storj network is itself a DApp on the Ethereum blockchain. There is no crypto mining for the STORJ tokens.

Although Storj controls the access to the network, it’s far more decentralized than the providers of current centralized storage systems because Storj can’t access the data renters upload.

Sia Network: Sia is a competitor to Storj and ranks second in this market. It works like Storj, i.e., it uses encryption, sharding, redundancy, and audit. However, it has its own blockchain network, which supports smart contracts.

Sia doesn‘t accept fiat currencies, so renters must pay for the services consumed by Siacoin (SC). The farmers are paid in SC, too. Siacoin requires mining.

Filecoin: This company hasn’t yet launched its services. However, their model is likely to follow the Storj and Sia networks.

Unlike fixed pricing offered by Storj and Sia, Filecoin will offer a marketplace with bids and asks. The team behind Filecoin is the same one that built the famous InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) protocol.

MaidSafe: They are still working on their platform, which is currently in the Alpha stage. In addition to a decentralized cloud storage solution, they also plan to provide computing resources in the cloud.

People can put their excess network bandwidth for rent on this network. The project promises complete anonymity for the users, and transactions will take place using the MaidSafe (MAID) coin.

MaidSafe has made available their whitepapers here.

Planning to Build a Decentralized Cloud Storage Solution?

If you, as a business CEO or CTO, are planning to invest in decentralized cloud storage solutions, you would require a competent team of software developers with experience in cloud technology, cloud tools, blockchain platforms, etc.

These skills are essential to keep up with the big players and build a market-competitive cloud storage solution. If you lack such field-expert developers, DevTeam.Space can help you with its software developers community.

Write to us a few details about your cloud project via this form, and one of our technical managers will get back to you to discuss how we can help.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is decentralized cloud storage?

Decentralized data storage on the cloud is when data is stored on a set of computers and not a network controlled by one central authority, as in centralized cloud storage. Multiple computers store the data and act as participants or nodes on decentralized storage networks.

What is Storj?

Storj is among the leading decentralized cloud storage options. It is a decentralized cloud storage provider platform that uses end-to-end encryption to ensure that data is kept private with increased data security and without any data breaches.

Is decentralized cloud storage technology safe?

Provided the platform has been well-designed and implemented, decentralized cloud storage is safe, if not safer, than centralized data centers and cloud solutions such as those offered by AWS, for example.


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