Blockchain as a Possible Solution to Persistent Enterprise Data Storage Challenges

28 April 2020

Gone are the days of local, centralized data storage – thankfully. It was a nightmare for the stakeholders and end-users alike as enterprises consistently experienced security and capacity challenges. To keep your data safe as well as leave room for growth, you had to be rich.

internet security and data protection concept, blockchain and cybersecurity

Now, businesses, both big and small, can rest easy knowing that they have access to inexpensive cloud storage solutions. According to the Hosting Tribunal, more than 94% of enterprises store their data in the cloud. Indeed, the average organization leverages at least five different cloud platforms on average.

Not only does the cloud guarantee greater storage space, thus more room for scaling, but it’s also way cheaper than local storage. The Hosting Tribunal survey shows that 61% of enterprises have shifted to cloud providers to take advantage of the cost-cutting benefits, while another 57% were attracted by cutting-edge features/capabilities.

Unfortunately, the Cloud, Too, Comes with Several Shortcomings

Cloud servers can keep records of our entire lives. From client data to business information and even personal documents, you can store pretty much everything on the cloud server. At first glance, it seems like the perfect solution!

But, a closer check reveals a few risky gaps.

  • Privacy issues

Although the cloud comes with exceptional speed, low latency, higher availability, and fast throughput, cloud servers have never been the most private storage place. All the big cloud storage companies, including Google and Amazon, have often been suspected and sometimes even accused of “trading” in user data.

Google, for instance, has, for a long time, been suspected of sharing users’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII) with advertisers and the authorities.

  • Cloud storage is largely centralized

Most cloud solutions still involve centralized storage. Although most of the large cloud storage providers store their data in multiple servers, the smaller providers still store data in a single, large server.

This creates a significant risk in case of hacking. If the server is hacked, an enterprise could lose all their data.

  • Easier for governments to impose restrictions

One of the best examples of this happened in Turkey in 2017 when the government imposed a blanket ban on Wikipedia in the country. All they had to do was ban a few cloud storage companies.

China, too, has been able to ban several social media platforms and video platforms in the country by imposing restrictions on selected cloud storage companies.

  • Even decentralized cloud comes short

Decentralized cloud services offer better security, minimize the impact of attacks, and prevents file loss due to data redundancy. But, they are still at the mercy of governments. Therefore, privacy remains a pipedream.

Enter Blockchain Storage

Blockchain data storage combines two technologies – decentralized storage and blockchain – to deliver a reliable, transparent, and very secure data storage solution.

Data is distributed across a global computer network. Since the network is shared, it’s impossible to breach. Better still, the network is encrypted in such a way that only the owner can view the file. This makes records both decentralized and safe. 

Although blockchain storage is not widely in use in current practice, it looks like a very promising opportunity for the future. 

How it Might Work

Blockchain data storage is primarily enabled by two technologies, sharding and swarming. The two work hand in hand.

First, data is broken into smaller chunks, which are then encrypted and uploaded onto the blockchain. The distribution is redundant, meaning that the pieces of data are available even when parts of the blockchain aren’t active.

When it comes to file-sharing, files are also divided into smaller pieces, known as shards, in a process known as sharding. Shards allow for faster transfer of files. Shards can also be recalled in parallel. All shards are encrypted, and only the uploader knows the location of all the shards. A network node cannot read chunks of data.

The shards needed to form a complete file can be located using a cryptographic hash table. Again, only the uploader owns the private key to the hash table.

Swarming is the technology used to keep a group of shards in a single place. Each swarm comprises several network nodes located in different geographic regions. The swarming technology lowers latency while increasing performance since data is retrieved in parallel from the nearest, most-convenient nodes.

The nodes are accessed through a decentralized network for increased reliability and scalability. A single company cannot own a swarm.  

Advantages of Blockchain Data Storage for Enterprises

Blockchain data storage offers all the key benefits of distributed cloud storage but adds several blockchain-related advantages. Ultimately, enterprises benefit from;

  • Improved data security

Blockchain storage is spread out across many data points, making it bullet-proof. First, both files and file shards are encrypted, making data inaccessible to non-owners. Secondly, the distributed storage mechanism ensures that a blockchain storage network cannot be universally hit by invasive malware. Above all, blockchain storage offers incredible redundancy to protect against data loss. Put differently; there’s no single point of failure.

  • Lower data storage costs

Distributed data storage through blockchain is a lot cheaper than on-premise and traditional cloud storage solutions. Why? Because enterprises don’t have to buy or maintain the hardware and software required for on-premise storage. Also, unlike with conventional cloud storage, blockchain storage doesn’t require too many management resources devoted to storage infrastructure.

  • Exceptional transparency 

Blockchain data storage is way more transparent than traditional cloud storage services. Although some of the big players providing enterprise cloud storage solutions have multiple servers in different geographic locations to boost availability, blockchain technology offers even more nodes. It means that users can access data very close to where it’s stored. The distributed nature of blockchain storage also improves fault tolerance.

  • Guaranteed privacy 

Much like blockchain coins such as BitCoin and Ethereum make it impossible for anyone to track your transactions, blockchain data storage guarantees complete privacy. No one can know the location of your data or what you’re storing on the chain. So, governments can’t track you. Also, since no one owns the blockchain, you never have to worry about a provider selling or sharing your information with third parties.

Maybe it’s Time You Got on Board?

Don’t wait for others to lead the way. If you’re serious about taking your business to the next level, this is the time to consider blockchain storage. Even if you don’t begin putting your data on the blockchain right away, you could always start learning about and preparing your businesses for the eventual changes. NIX Solutions is always ready for the innovations and can be your onboarding partner for the blockchain storage. Contact us today to learn how we can help.