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GigaOm Sonar for Decentralized Storage v1.0

An Emerging Technology Insight Report

Summary

A decentralized storage system is based on a peer-to-peer (P2P) network, a type of architecture that found some success in the past for data distribution and file sharing. Instead of storing all the data in a centralized system, data is chunked, distributed, and stored on many nodes in a local network or the internet. Figure 1 compares traditional shared storage with decentralized storage.

Figure 1. Comparison Between Traditional and Decentralized Storage Systems

We have seen attempts—largely unsuccessful ones so far—to build a decentralized, or P2P, network infrastructure over the years, but the risks are now mitigated by recent developments, such as the large number of unused commodity resources across the internet, better security, and blockchain technology to ensure data immutability and consistency. In the end, it is now easier to take advantage of the abundance of unused, and sometimes unreliable, resources to build strong and secure storage infrastructures.

Decentralized storage and peer-to-peer networks are not common in the traditional enterprise and they are usually viewed with a lot of skepticism due to overall complexity, potential risks, and other challenges. That said, the latest generation of solutions based on this technology can hide most of the complexity while providing a user experience similar to traditional public cloud storage, with better cost models and security. Moreover, thanks to the cloud and the rise of microservices, enterprises are more familiar with highly distributed applications and more open to evaluating decentralized infrastructure solutions.

How We Got Here

The public cloud as we know it has a tremendous impact on IT agility and flexibility, but it can also lead to increasing costs and potential lock-ins. Particularly with growing business needs that lead to the adoption of hybrid and multi-cloud solutions, users are finding it more and more difficult to consolidate data on a single public cloud or on-premises. Additionally, applications are becoming more mobile and data needs to follow along, but this may not be possible due to data gravity, time, and cost of migrations. This situation creates inefficiencies that can limit an organization’s ability to build effective multi-cloud strategies.

In order to maintain flexibility, minimize risks of lock-in, and keep costs down, users are looking to build data repositories that are cost effective and accessible from everywhere, with good performance and with standard access interfaces. Data consolidation also simplifies data management and security. In this regard, decentralized cloud storage is a great alternative to traditional cloud storage providers.

Blockchain technology plays a fundamental role in modern decentralized storage. Not only can it be used to create an internal currency to simplify raw storage resources and data services trading, it can also improve peer-to-peer network security, information integrity, and data reliability.

Even though the basic concepts behind decentralized storage technology solutions are similar, implementations differ greatly. There are several players already focused on different use cases and market segments, with many of them targeting developers and enterprises looking for relatively inexpensive and highly secure storage.

About the GigaOm Emerging Technology Impact Report

This GigaOm report is focused on emerging technologies and market segments. It helps organizations of all sizes to understand a technology, its strengths and weaknesses, and its fit within an overall IT strategy. The report is organized into four sections:

  • Technology Overview: An outline of the technology, its major benefits, possible use cases, and the relevant characteristics of different product implementations in the market.
  • Considerations for Adoption: An analysis of the potential risks and benefits of introducing products based on this technology into an enterprise IT scenario, including table stakes and key differentiating features, as well as consideration of how to integrate the new product into the existing environment.
  • GigaOm Sonar: A graphical representation of the market and its most important players focused on their value proposition and their roadmaps for the future. This section also includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.
  • Near-Term Roadmap: A 12-18 month forecast of the future development of the technology, its ecosystem, and major players in this market segment.

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