John Gleeson on how decentralization enables better cloud storageJul 12, 2021
"There's a belief [among some people] that decentralized systems are the more complicated, slower way to do something that solves a problem without much benefit," said John Gleeson, COO of Storj Labs. John spoke to Orchid's Derek Silva about the possibilities and potential of decentralized and distributed cloud storage services on this week's episode of Priv8.
"We heard that a lot early on," said John. "People said, 'well, if it's decentralized, it can't possibly be fast,' or 'it can't possibly be as durable as centralized solutions.'"
But the truth is that decentralized systems can be just as efficient as their centralized counterparts: "What we see at Storj is that we can deliver a user experience that is comparable or even better."
John has first-hand knowledge of how traditional, centralized cloud storage systems operate. "Before joining Storj about 3 ½ years ago, I worked in developer tools that were delivered in a centralized format," he said. "It's a very different experience delivering a consistent decentralized service that has high availability, high uptime, great durability--all of the things that developers would expect from a cloud storage service."
Balancing economic incentives with technological well-being
Still, there have been challenges along the road. Derek asked John about the difficulties he has encountered building a decentralized cloud storage solution.
"The challenge has been about making sure that Storj provides developers with what they need while protecting their data privacy," he said. "We also must ensure that Storj is economically viable and rewarding for node providers."
Decentralized storage platforms must be designed to "[drive] the behavior of the people who are running the storage nodes" -- most commonly, by offering token rewards. The incentive model works to "ensure that people have high uptime, and they're incentivized not to exit the network prematurely or delete data."
Data privacy in decentralized storage systems
How does a decentralized system protect user privacy? By"encrypt[ing] the data and metadata in a way that only the user has access to the encryption keys," said John, and by "offer[ing] a range of encryption options to balance between maximum privacy and maximum ease of use."
"Like much of decentralization and blockchain," he continued, "there isn't a ton of new tech that's been introduced, but there are a lot of things that have been reapplied."
You can listen to Derek's entire conversation with John here. And don't forget to subscribe to Priv8 on your favorite streaming service.