After GigaOm’s Radar comes Sonar, as it dives deeper into emerging tech

GigaOm has developed a diagrammatic lens and research document, through which to look at emerging startup technologies with few suppliers but much promise: the Sonar diagram in Emerging Technology Insight reports

Its first Sonar report looks at decentralised storage with peer-to-peer technology, and uses a three-axis triangle scheme rating companies’ positioning in terms of their roadmap, technology and strategy. There are two concentric triangles, the outer one being for Challenger suppliers, and the inner one for Leaders. In general, suppliers have higher overall value the closer to the centre of this triple-axis space they are located. 

Each vendor’s position has an arrow attached showing its expected direction of travel over the next 12 to 18 months.

GigaOm Distributed Storage Sonar diagram. The leaders are Storj and Protocol (Filecoin) and then FileBase.

Analyst Enrico Signoretti writes that the report’s analysis is focused on highlighting core technology, use cases, and differentiating features, rather than drawing feature comparisons. He argues: “The goal is to define the basic features the user should expect from products that correctly implement the technology, while keeping an eye on characteristics that will have a role in building the differentiating value over time.”

The emerging technologies covered may stay niche, or develop and become mainstream. In that case they could be covered by GigaOm’s Radar reports. A chart shows the technology evolution involved:

Distributed P2P storage

Distributed storage using a peer-to-peer scheme has multiple storage nodes — hundreds if not thousands of servers or PCs, storing redundant chunks of files using some error-correcting and/or erasure coding scheme, in order to reconstruct the original data if one or more nodes fail.

A central management system controls and manages the whole network, maintaining and updating metadata to detail which nodes store which chunks of which original data. This system accepts incoming data, processes it and deploys it across the network, and also retrieves data upon request.

Client systems export data to be stored and also request data retrieval, using APIs or protocols such as S3. Blockchain technology may be used as a data integrity and security system, and also to underpin a payment system. Data storage providers can be paid in Bitcoin and storage consumers can be billed in Bitcoin.

Example use cases for technology like this — with indeterminate network access speed — include archives, backup, content distribution, video storage, secure collaboration and private data sharing. Mobile and cloud-native app developers may find such distributed storage attractive because it is generally much less expensive than a mainstream public cloud.

Five suppliers are covered: OChain, Filebase, Protocol (with Filecoin product), Sia Foundation and Storj. We have mentioned Storj and its Tardigrade technology in several storage round-up articles, as well as Filecoin.

In November last year we wrote “Peer-to-peer based cloud storage provider Filecoin says its mainnet blockchain-based public storage cloud has reached 1.2EB (1 exabyte) of capacity and claims to offer a hyper-competitive alternative to AWS, Azure and Google. The service is priced in Bitcoin and the capacity is available across thousands of servers and PCs worldwide who assign spare capacity to Filecoin.”

We have covered a sixth one, Cubbit, only recently. It’s so new it’s not yet in the Sonar report.

The GigaOm report describes each vendor and its product, analyses the technology as a whole, and reviews considerations for adoption by enterprises. Signoretti writes: “It helps organisations of all sizes to understand a technology, its strengths and weaknesses, and its fit within an overall IT strategy.” Read it to keep an eye on newly emergent storage technologies.