Cloud Storage Service On The Blockchain.
StorJ has taken a lot of heat lately; a quick scroll through the Reddit page reveals users complaining about technical uses and griping about the company’s lack of progress. Perhaps the StorJ team is simply working too hard to market themselves: the company recently integrated with FileZilla to little fanfare.
CLOUD STORAGE IS FINE IF YOU TRUST THE THIRD PARTY HOLDING YOUR DATA
CLOUD STORAGE AS A SERVICE IS BLOWING UP
Cloud storage has blown up in the last few years. Companies like Dropbox and Box.com have flourished, while major companies have created their own spinoffs, like Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services. And cloud storage is fine, if you trust the third party holding your data. But that’s a big if. Bitcoin was founded on the concept of eliminating the trusted intermediary, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that people have taken the idea and brought into cloud storage.
StorJ has two classes of citizens: farmers, and renters. Farmers offer up spare space on their hard drives. Renters pay them for the privilege to use it. It’s a simple concept, buoyed by several technological advancements and some big-name backers. If Bob wants to rent from Jane, he pays $0.015 per GB per month for storage and $0.05 per GB for bandwidth. Data is broken up, encrypted, and stored in multiple places on the network, a practice called sharding. StorJ uses Kademlia to route messages and Bridge as a dedicated server to access various applications. Data owners can decide how much trust they grant Bridge. Agreements between farmers and renters are negotiated through Quasar, and StorJ is payment-agnostic: a specific payment isn’t required to pay for storage. If you’re worried one day about how your data is doing stored on some stranger’s hard drive, you can request an audit and the farmer will issue a proof retrievability. This proves your stuff is still there.
STORJ’S ICO WAS LAUNCHED WITH A WORKING PROTOTYPE
Outside of the tech, StorJ has a few other things going for it. The team launched their ICO with a working prototype, never a sure thing in the crypto world today. This is no fly-by-night operation; StorJ is three years in the making now. The team is experienced, working full-time, and recently doubled in size. They’re proponents of open-source software; you can check out their GitHub page and look over the code for yourself. In a world where many ICOs don’t even have a prototype, open source code is a phenomenal step forward in transparency. I’d love to see more ICOs imitate this.
StorJ recently switched from the Bitcoin network to the Ethereum network, converting their token to the ERC20 standard. The goal of this was to increase useability, with Ethereum seeing mainstream implications. The team also claimed this would cut fees for users and provide some protection from the volatility of the markets.
STORJ HAS ASSEMBLED AN IMPRESSIVE TEAM
Speaking of the team, they’ve got experienced coders and big-name backers. Warren Webber, a former senior-level employee at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, brings a macro economic perspective to the team. Anand Babu Periasamy is head of Minio cloud storage, bringing industry knowledge. ArgonGroup, TokenMarket, CoinFund are all companies helping out as well. DtorJ has also announced a partnership with Microsoft Azure, a giant in the storage space.
During the ICO, buyers received an ERC20 STORJ token, with existing SJCX tokens being migrated to the new format. Before the ICO, a pre-sale enabled those looking to spend 50K plus to grab tokens at a discount. The new STORJ token was supported from the get-go by Poloniex and Bittrex, two of the biggest exchanges out there. It’s unknown exactly how many tokens the team held for themselves, but 425M will be issued total. StorJ took some flack for accepting direct fiat payment instead of tokens. After the ICO, StorJ raised money on BankToTheFuture and did a private equity sale. Some of those who bought tokens felt cheated that the company turned around and accepted direct fiat payment later. Others argued the concept of an ICO exists to get funding to the team easier and quicker than traditional methods. If you trust the team and support the product, you’d logically want them to be as funded as possible as quickly as they could.
EARLY ADOPTERS WANT TO SEE MORE PROGRESS
StorJ has taken a lot of heat lately; a quick scroll through the Reddit page reveals users complaining about technical uses and griping about the company’s lack of progress. Perhaps the StorJ team is simply working too hard to market themselves: the company recently integrated with FileZilla to little fanfare. FileZilla is a free cross-platform FTP, whose open-source nature mirrors StorJ. But very little was said about it, and investors can get antsy without progress reports. Others complain the team hasn’t communicated well with their community since the ICO. But several rounds of fundraising later, and you still can’t pay for storage with the STORJ token. There’s no advantage to using it over USD. StorJ is letting a potential competitive advantage slip away, something we’ll elaborate on the importance of below.
STORJ IS IN A CROWDED SPACE WITH MANY BIG NAMES
Some have also questioned StorJ’s lack of competitive advantage; others simply think the field is too crowded. Two other prominent blockchain data storage companies are Sia and MaidSafe. MaidSafe is still under development, but Sia exists, is thriving, and is cheaper to use than StorJ. And as we’ve already touched on, this is a space populated by titans. Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud have exponentially more resources and recognition. Microsoft rules the office world, Amazon has a piece of everyone’s action these days, and Google is simply Google. It’s hard to say if StorJ’s team and vision can overcome these giants and their own blockchain competitors. In addition to being cheaper, Sia runs on its own blockchain, not Ethereum, and is fully decentralized. It does have an entry barrier, you need to put up collateral to become a farmer, something StorJ doesn’t have. Filecoin and Swarm are other competitors being built on the Ethereum network. StorJ will need to stand out in a crowded field.
Like many startup currencies, StorJ has some cool ideas and truly massive challenges. Prospective investors should keep a close eye on the company; the next year or less could be make-or-break for StorJ.
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