Storj is a decentralized – but not Web3 – storage company with the sales pitch being that it can provide fast and reliable enterprise-class public cloud storage services and undercut Amazon S3 pricing.
Web3 or dStorage, like Protocol Labs, Djuno and Zus, is characterized by its use of providers’ spare capacity, blockchain, cryptocurrency, and a wish to tear down the walls of Web 2.0 storage, exemplified by AWS and Azure. It may even want to replace everyday, state-backed fiat currencies like the dollar with blockchain-backed cryptocurrencies.
Storj supplies its DCS cloud storage from multiple small datacenters and operators, utilizing their spare or stranded capacity. COO John Glesson told us: “We have this network of 24,000 endpoints all over the world.” In more than 100 countries, in fact, and the endpoint total has grown from 15,000 at the end of last year.
Incoming files are encrypted, divided (sharded) into 64MB segments, erasure-coded, and the fragments written across multiple distributed providers in a continuous single namespace. Blockchain technology is not used.
When a file is accessed (read), it needs reassembling and this is done using the nearest erasure-coded fragments to the requesting system. The full file or object is not read, meaning that not all the endpoints storing the file need to supply their portion of it. An edge-hosted Storj intermediary agent gets enough erasure-coded fragments, a minimum 29 of 80 pieces of each segment, to completely reassemble and decrypt the file/object and present it to the requesting system.
Compute is faster than network transfer, and this saves on network transmission time, particularly when Storj capacity providers can be distributed globally. Storj claims it can pull content delivery network-class performance from its distributed S3-compatible store.
The company states: “Compared to S3 single-region storage, Storj has more consistent throughput because it pulls from many nodes simultaneously, drastically increasing the probability of uncongested paths. S3 performance is affected by intermittent internet slowdowns. This is especially true when the S3 origin is far away from the download location.”
Naturally, the erasure coding also protects against disk, SSD, and provider failures as well. Storj provides 99.97 percent availability, 11 nines of durability, and not one file has been lost in more than three years, we’re told. Its services are backed by SLAs, and it can also provide geofencing to restrict a stored file’s location to a particular geographic region where data sovereignty concerns exist. The company can also regionalize its network to provide business continuity.
Because Storj does not have to build or lease its own datacenters and infrastructure, its costs are dramatically lower than a tier 1 or 2 cloud service provider; up to 80 percent lower than AWS S3 is the claim. This also makes the Storj public cloud less environmentally damaging then other clouds as it uses already-built capacity, not new capacity.
Storj says it provides affordable, reliable and performant decentralized storage without the blockchain, external cryptocurrency and change-the-world evangelical disadvantages of Web 3.0 storage. It’s an offering for business and public sector users with SLAs that use distributed spare capacity – in roughly the same way that Airbnb uses spare housing capacity and Uber spare vehicle capacity.