Sia - Decentralized Cloud Storage
We are bullish on Sia’s business model and that’s why we at Luxor Mining have dedicated one of our mining pools to supporting the network. In addition, we have been contributing back a percentage of our mining pool fees to the community to help it develop further. To check out more about Luxor’s Sia Mining Pool click here.
What is Sia?
Sia is a decentralized data storage platform powered by blockchain technology. Sia connects people “hosts” that have underutilized hard drive capacity with customers “renters” in search of data storage. In essence, Sia is the Uber of data storage.
The blockchain technology delivers a competitive advantage for Sia, making it more secure and lower cost than traditional cloud storage providers. Sia has created a marketplace for data that provides higher latency, more throughput, less downtime and more security.
Below is a breakdown of what we think makes Sia such a valuable service:
One of the most important purchase criteria for renters is the price of data storage. Currently, renters purchase data storage from a number of providers such as Amazon, Microsoft, Dropbox, Google, etc. These services offer prices that are far above the price of Sia. On average, Sia’s storage costs 70% less than existing cloud storage providers.
Sia is able to offer such a low price point due to their low costs. This is fueled by blockchain technology and competition on the network.
Powered by Blockchain
It’s no secret that blockchain technology has the potential to dramatically reduce costs. That is why big companies such as Google and Goldman Sachs (amongst many others) have invested in the technology. By providing a cloud storage marketplace on the cloud, Sia is able to dramatically reduce its costs, which results in a lower price point for consumers.
The business model has built in competition between data storage hosts which reduces the price even further. On the network hosts show their geography, speed, latency, price and uptime. Renters have the ability to select the hosts that are best suited for their situation. This competition causes downward pressure on price and upward pressure on quality.
Arguably more important than price is data security. Renters need to be certain that their data will not be lost, tampered with or stolen.
This is a problem for the existing cloud storage providers. The threat of data being destroyed is more probable than the public is led to believe. For example Amazon only has a few data storage centers in the world. This means that if these were all destroyed then so to would the data. In the unlikely case that America was going to be attacked, targeting data centers would be an effective place to start. Even if all the facilities are not attacked, a simple outage can cause other companies to go with it. For example when Amazon experienced an outage last year in one of its data centers a number of companies also temporarily went down including Slack and Business Insider. It’s dangerous to rely so much on one company and a few data centers. An additional (although less likely) threat to existing cloud storage providers is stolen or tampered data.The public is becoming increasingly suspicious of large tech companies and hence is worried about their data. Cyber security attacks from third-parties are also a threat even with technology companies investing heavily to prevent it.
Ultimately Sia delivers a strong solution to data security issues. Sia is more secure than any of the existing providers as no one event can trigger a loss of data. The security is built from the following concepts:
Sia uses the Reed-Solomon Redundancy to ensure the security of data. Each piece of data is stored on 30 devices located around the world. Only 10 of the 30 devices need to be online in order to store the file. If every host has a 90% reliability (which is lower than the actual reliability) than the chance of losing the data is 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000. Because these 30 servers are located around the world and on different servers the chances of lost data are extremely low. No random event can trigger a loss of data.
Sia encrypts and distributes renters’ files across a decentralized network. The files are encrypted on the renters machine. Each separate piece of data has a separate password so it can’t be deduplicated. Renters control their private encryption keys and have ownership of their data. No outside third party can access or control renters data, unlike traditional cloud storage providers.
The File Contract is an application of Sia that is build off of Smart Contract technology. Basically, the hosts do not get paid until they prove (at the end of the period) that they did hold on to the data. When the contract is formed both the renter and the host puts money into the smart contract. The reason the host also puts money into the contract is to provide additional incentive to fulfill their duties in the contract. If they break the contract they will not only lose out on revenue but also their deposit. The blockchain enforces the smart contract automatically, meaning there is no need for trust of a third-party or between the host and renter.
The way the data is stored is by using the Merkle Tree method. Each file is split into 64 Byte pieces, then each piece is hashed, and then the adjacent hashes are combined until one piece remains. The final hash in the Merkle root. The host must prove that they have one of the 64 Byte segment of the data (randomly selected). This ensures that the host does in fact have the data.
To hold hosts accountable they are monitored often to make sure they are indeed providing the services they advertised. They are checked for uptime, latency, throughput and price. Overall, hosts are around 90–95% reliable.
Sia provides a unique solution to a problem facing many users of cloud storage. Under the existing industry renters pay a high price point for a service with questionable security. With Sia renters are able to store their data for cheap and with better security.
Ultimately, we expect this business to to thrive and hope to continue to support it in the future!
For additional information on Sia check out their Whitepaper here.
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