Decentralized storage supplier Züs, which announced its existence today, has a similar aim to Filecoin and Flux: displacing large centralized cloud storage suppliers. However, Züs boasts a parallel design that, its leaders claim, makes it faster than those competitors. Whether that claim can be backed up remains to be seen – as does Züs itself.
Web3 decentralized storage (dStorage) is typically based on a peer-to-peer network of private or small business IT resource providers using blockchain to verify that they are supplying what they should. Cryptocurrency payments and rewards are used so they supply it in a trustworthy manner, like a centralized storage provider such as AWS, Azure or Google. Culturally, decentralized storage (and compute) suppliers position themselves as democratizing IT so that it is provided by the people for the people – often presented with evangelical fervour.
Züs is a rebrand of 0Chain, which says its vision “has always been to empower people with access to and control over their own data. Züs, the God of the Sky will finally take Web3 beyond the cloud.” See? Evangelical fervour.
CEO Saswata Basu issued a canned statement: “0Chain has evolved from a blockchain technology, a journey we embarked on five years ago, to a cloud solution platform that empowers people and businesses to be limitless. Züs is ready to power the full arrival of Web3.”
We are told Züs can store data with better security, privacy, availability and performance than traditional cloud. It creates an economy for small business growth and passive income for individuals.
Züs’s parallel design involves breaking a file into chunks and writing them in parallel to individual storage nodes (blobbers in its jargon). It says it’s able to match AWS S3 performance and is suitable for applications with faster performance needs than storing cold data. Züs says that, “while platforms like Filecoin and IPFS are good for archival storage, their slower-than-average transaction speeds present long-term limits for Web3 storage.”
An 0Chain document claims: “we provide a competitive speed relative to NetApp’s Cloud offering” – referring to NetApp’s Cloud Volumes service on AWS. It asserts “for enterprises, 0Chain dStorage provides a fast throughput for your data and transactions.”
We were told by a Züs spokesperson that: “0chain (Züs) was founded in 2017 around the same time as Filecoin, and has simply approached the same problem from a different direction, resulting in measurably better results when compared against the industry-leading centralized storage products.”
We have asked for but haven’t seen any “measurably better results” – like, say, detailed benchmark runs or comparative quantified I/O speeds.
Decentralized storage jargon
The spokesperson also told us that “many decentralized technologies still rely on centralized cloud data storage.” We asked for names and were given the example of NFT Marketplaces – websites where users can trade non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.
It’s typical with Web3 decentralized storage providers like Filecoin and Züs that there are no brochures or data sheets or any other documentation types associated with traditional (Web 2.0) storage providers. Instead Züs relies DevOps style on GitHub (this, for example) and has its own level of near-impenetrable jargon. For example: “0Chain provides an easy-to-scale infrastructure through Miners, Sharders, and Blobbers that perform several duties necessary for functional blockchain and storage systems.”
The developers behind decentralized storage present their internal blockchain mining technical concepts like this in a way that is quite foreign to traditional storage suppliers such as NetApp, Pure, Dell, etc. Interested parties have to go through a steep conceptual learning curve before they can even understand what’s going on.
The inherent complexity of decentralized storage – with blockchain-verified transactions and potentially huge peer-to-peer networks of cryptocurrency-using small-scale suppliers – will limit its I/O speed and its acceptability to customers. Because dStorage suppliers want, philosophically, to tear down the public cloud titans and other centralized storage suppliers, like Dropbox, they are asking, if not requiring, their customers to adopt the same philosophical choice.
This, and their dense jargon, will distance them from customers who have an intrinsically centralized approach in their own business activities. Any business with an on-premises IT infrastructure has, by default, a centralized approach – and may well find decentralized storage and compute concepts alien to its way of thinking.
Züs was supposed to arrive on October 26 yet the website is still parked at GoDaddy. The 0Chain website makes no mention of Züs beyond a “something is coming” teaser, and the @Zus_Network twitter feed has made no posts. We asked the company what is going on. It didn’t tell us.