The young report card on Decentralized Storage

I kept this blog in my queue for over 4 months. I was reluctant to publish it because I thought the outrageous frenzies of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), metaverses and web3 were convoluting the discussions on the decentralized storage topic. 3 weeks back, a Google Trends search for these 3 opaque terms over 90 days showed that the worldwide fads were waning. Here was the Google Trends output on April 2, 2022:

Google Trends on NFT, metaverse and web3

Decentralized storage intrigues me. I like to believe in its potential and I often try to talk to people to strengthen the narratives, and support its adoption where it fits. But often, the real objectives of decentralized storage are obfuscated by the polarized conversations about cryptocurrencies that are pegged to their offerings, NFTs (non-fungible tokens), DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) and plenty of hyperboles with bewildering facts as well.

But I continue to seek sustainable conversations about decentralized storage without the sway of the NFTs or the cryptos. After dipping in my toes and experiencing with HODLers, and looking at the return to sanity, I believe we can discuss decentralized storage with better clarity now. The context is to position decentralized storage to the mainstream, specifically to business organizations already immersed in centralized storage. Here is my fledgling report card on decentralized storage.

What does mainstream majority look for? 

Centralized storage, on-premises or in the clouds, has proven its mettle. There are tenets that organizations look for when evaluating the storage platforms, and deciding where the data repositories are. The mainstream majority look for

  • Availability
  • Protection
  • Performance
  • Accessibility
  • Recovery
  • Security
  • Management
  • Compliance

These 8 tenets will be my yardstick when comparing what we have today in centralized storage with the young up-and-coming challenger of decentralized storage. These are also the admission criteria for decentralized storage to step into the big league of storage.

Opinionated views

These are my views. I am not an analyst but I take this juxtaposition from a 30-year experience in everything storage.

Centralized Storage
Decentralized Storage

I also want to point out that while the underlying technology of decentralized storage is of sound security, its integration with the new(er) generation of applications such as NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and cryptocurrencies is extremely fragile and insecure. This distinction has to be made clear.

Can both exist now and the future?

Of course, but they cater to different market segments for now. In new use cases, decentralized storage is pushing through to organizations which are experimenting its potential. There will be more overlaps with centralized storage as we trudge forward when decentralized storage strengthens its ambitions.

However, in the short term, decentralized storage is not ready for the mainstream in my opinion. There are too many gaps that it has to close in order to stand shoulder to shoulder with centralized storage. Of course one can argue that decentralized storage is for a new generation of applications in Web3, DeFi (decentralized finance), voluminous unstructured consumer data and metaverse, but these applications have not reached the plateau of trust yet. Despite my unflattering views here, decentralized storage’s future is bright. The runway is still being built as we speak, and a day will come where decentralized storage will be side-by-side on the pedestal of top tier storage of choice.

But we do not know when decentralized storage will get there after Forrester Research released a rather damning report of “Web3 promises a better online future but contains the seeds of a Dystopian Nightmare” on April 1, 2022” (paid report). The Register released a paraphrased article of the report quickly after, which was a good read.

Eventually, decentralized storage’s onward march very much depends on its capabilities to meet the tenets of centralized storage and to “Cross the Chasm” into the mainstream majority. Else it could be confined to a niche segment of the storage technology industry. I would like to see the former happening.


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About cfheoh

I am a technology blogger with 30 years of IT experience. I write heavily on technologies related to storage networking and data management because those are my areas of interest and expertise. I introduce technologies with the objectives to get readers to know the facts and use that knowledge to cut through the marketing hypes, FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and other fancy stuff. Only then, there will be progress. I am involved in SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) and between 2013-2015, I was SNIA South Asia & SNIA Malaysia non-voting representation to SNIA Technical Council. I currently employed at iXsystems as their General Manager for Asia Pacific Japan.

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