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Jennifer KingAug 8, 20233 min read

Cloud Storage: Past, Present, and Future

Cloud Storage is a mode of computer data storage in which digital data is stored on servers in off-site locations. It enables businesses to store and manage their data remotely without having to maintain physical hardware or servers. Cloud storage solutions are generally either public or private, and they offer enterprises increased scalability, flexibility, reliability, and cost-efficiency compared to traditional on-premises storage solutions.

Recently, a more innovative approach to storage has begun to improve on these benefits by changing the underlying architecture from centralized servers to a decentralized, peer-to-peer network. We will take a look at how this is part of the ongoing evolution of data storage technology.

The Evolution of the Cloud

The cloud service industry has evolved significantly since its inception. 

The first cloud provider was an online file system called OpenDrive, which launched in 1998. Then, in the early 2000s, a number of cloud services providers such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure emerged, offering cloud-based storage solutions.

Today, cloud services are a multi-billion dollar industry with providers such as AWS and GCP leading the way. They offer cloud servers that allow businesses to store and access data from anywhere in the world. 

In addition to cloud storage, their cloud servers also offer various other services such as cloud computing, cloud hosting, cloud databases, and cloud security. These services are becoming increasingly popular as more businesses turn to cloud solutions for their data storage needs.

Cloud Storage and Decentralization

Decentralized storage is a cutting-edge entrant into the cloud service market that presents a compelling alternative to the traditional cloud players. Decentralized storage works by breaking up files into smaller pieces and then distributing them across a network of decentralized computers or servers. This approach provides several benefits over traditional centralized cloud storage solutions, including greater security, higher availability, and lower costs due to the lack of a centralized infrastructure. Additionally, blockchain technology is being integrated into decentralized storage solutions, further enhancing security and reliability.

The Shift Towards Decentralized Cloud Services

An increasing number of organizations, ranging from CERN to The University of Utah, are choosing decentralized storage solutions over their traditional cloud counterparts.

Datasets of such public importance are particularly sensitive to the shortcomings of server-based storage. Since these rely on black-box business practices, they cannot guarantee that the team’s data would be permanently stored in an immutable and verifiable way - potentially impacting reproducibility.

These datasets are better suited for open-source storage systems that provide marked improvements in security, censorship-resistance, and data persistence. The guaranteed availability, immutability, and retrievability of this information is essential to the success of these organizations.

Likewise, the cost difference between centralized and decentralized solutions is significant. Decentralized cloud storage can cost up to 50% less per gigabyte less when compared to traditional providers.

Learn More About Decentralized Storage 

The IDC, a leading global market intelligence firm, recently conducted a Cloud Storage Survey to explore organizations’ perceptions of the drawbacks to existing public cloud storage providers; and their appetite for decentralized storage solutions.

Survey highlights:

  • Over 87% of organizations were at least somewhat concerned about public cloud provider lock-in, and more than 46% were very or extremely concerned about it.
  • 82% of enterprises indicated that cost considerations were the initial reasons to move data into the cloud
  • The value proposition of decentralized storage— lower costs with at least the same durability, availability, safety, and performance as public cloud providers today — was preferred by 89.7% of respondents

To learn more about decentralized storage, download the IDC White Paper, Making the case for Decentralized Storage, sponsored by Protocol Labs.