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posted by martyb on Saturday August 12, @06:47AM   Printer-friendly
from the 'flip'-a-coin? dept.

A blockchain-based cloud storage technology called Filecoin has already raised $52 million from investors. The company is poised to raise millions more on Thursday when it begins selling units of its bitcoin-like cryptocurrency to a larger set of wealthy investors.

Filecoin aims to disrupt conventional cloud-based storage platforms from Amazon and others. If it succeeds, the technology could be worth billions of dollars. But the company will need to overcome some significant hurdles first.

First and foremost, Filecoin's technology doesn't actually exist yet. The Filecoin team has done extensive research and planning, producing a series of white papers describing the technology it's building. But an actual, working Filecoin network is still months away. When it launches, Filecoin will compete with rival blockchain storage networks, including Sia, which has been available to the public for two years.

"Filecoin currently is just a white paper," Sia co-founder David Vorick told us earlier this week.

Have any Soylentils encountered or used blockchain storage, and if so what did you think of it?

Source: Ars Technica

Also at Medium, TechCrunch, and CoinDesk.


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 12, @06:52AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 12, @06:52AM (#552777)

    Storj already exists and seems to be usable for that function. Still not sure if it is really blockchain technology for storing the data.

  • (Score: 2) by drussell on Saturday August 12, @08:26AM (8 children)

    by drussell (2678) on Saturday August 12, @08:26AM (#552797) Journal

    Storing your data "in the cloud" is a risky endeavor to begin with, fraught with peril.

    After skimming that .pdf, I would say that "outsourcing" your data )as they call it) via filecoin is a complete WTF?!

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by tonyPick on Saturday August 12, @09:11AM (7 children)

      by tonyPick (1237) on Saturday August 12, @09:11AM (#552804) Homepage Journal

      Actually it struck me as a fairly nice idea - the way I view it is that you're distributing storage amongst "many" storage providers, with redundancy, and using a cryptocurrency to run the market. The idea of distributed redundant storage struck me as way more reliable than a single entity handling the storage, even if the individual providers may actually be less reliable.

      Assuming the overall market is stable (big if) then managing the reliability woes of putting things on "someone else's computer" seems to be a big win for this model, and having the miners check the integrity of the data on a regular basis as part of the market function is a nice touch.

      Of course, in a world where I can buy 4TB for $100US off Amazon, then investing in this thing that doesn't exist to store data where most people don't need it when local storage is so cheap, and its harder to see how the cost of renting would compare to just buying? That would be the questionable part to me, but everybody's afraid of missing out on the next big thing I guess.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by hemocyanin on Saturday August 12, @03:54PM (1 child)

        by hemocyanin (186) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 12, @03:54PM (#552876)

        "blockchain storage"

        Does this mean that everyone in the world would be able to know where you've stashed your data, how much data you've stashed, and when you did the stashing. Even if the data is indecipherably encrypted (for a while at least), that would leave a lot of information hanging out in the public.

        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday August 12, @06:02PM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 12, @06:02PM (#552913) Journal

          I suspect its just to find your blocks in the swirling stew of blocks in the cloud.
          So instead of having them right at home in your own machines, you just put up a sign "hemocyanin-lakkjl/qi-iugu3jkahhhh3" and your photo collection comes home to roost. Taking not just the few milliseconds to access your NAS, but minutes, maybe hours.

          At best, it seems like a way to incentive-ize participation in a bit-torrent like storage hive.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday August 12, @05:55PM (3 children)

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 12, @05:55PM (#552911) Journal

        Actually it struck me as a fairly nice idea - the way I view it is that you're distributing storage amongst "many" storage providers, with redundancy, and using a cryptocurrency to run the market. The idea of distributed redundant storage struck me as way more reliable than a single entity handling the storage, even if the individual providers may actually be less reliable.

        Well, DUH!
        We all know that, and distributed redundant storage has been a thing for a long time.
        The question is, why involve blockchains?
        Without a clear explanation of what features the blockchain part provides, security, privacy, encryption, read-tracking, write-tracking, etc, we are left wondering if we are playing another round of buzzword bingo.

        Then they add a bitcoin-esq feature and you start feeling like you are in a room full of used car salesmen.

        Is the currency aspect intended to attract all those people running terabyte hard drives or NAS boxes with nothing to store on them besides porn and pirated movies into joining the storage pool? If so THAT might be novel. way of federating under used excess storage.

        Would any small scale participant earn enough to pay the power bill? I'm guessing not. Lets rip off the peons and let them buy cheap, useless, or illegal crap on some dimly lit market that will redeem the bus tokens we hand out.

        It seems to me this is a way to spur sales of NAS boxes the way bitcoin spurred sales of GPUs.
        1) Buy a 4 Terabyte NAS. (or a couple thousand of them)
        2) Dump all your porn *cough* data on it.
        3) Join the federation
        4) Offer up your excess storage - maybe ALL of it.
        5) Watch your drive fill up.
        6) Notice that THEIR driver still says you have 4 Terabytes "free"
        7) Notice that THEIR driver says you have multiple petabytes for just a few filecoin a month.
        8 ...
        9 NOT Profit. (unless you sell NAS Boxes)

        No matter how cool sounding, or how much delicious techy paint you slather on the pig, you still can't get around the fact that you can sell something that costs REAL money to provide in exchange for imaginary money (that can't be spent anywhere else than the company store) and make ends meet.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 4, Informative) by frojack on Saturday August 12, @06:26PM (1 child)

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 12, @06:26PM (#552924) Journal

          TFS should have included this single paragraph from the White Paper:

          Filecoin is a decentralized storage network that turns cloud storage into an algorithmic market. The
          market runs on a blockchain with a native protocol token (also called “Filecoin”), which miners earn
          by providing storage to clients. Conversely, clients spend Filecoin hiring miners to store or distribute
          data. As with Bitcoin, Filecoin miners compete to mine blocks with sizable rewards, but Filecoin mining
          power is proportional to active storage, which directly provides a useful service to clients (unlike Bitcoin
          mining, whose usefulness is limited to maintaining blockchain consensus). This creates a powerful incentive
          for miners to amass as much storage as they can, and rent it out to clients. The protocol weaves
          these amassed resources into a self-healing storage network that anybody in the world can rely on. The
          network achieves robustness by replicating and dispersing content, while automatically detecting and
          repairing replica failures. Clients can select replication parameters to protect against different threat
          models. The protocol’s cloud storage network also provides security, as content is encrypted end-to-end
          at the client, while storage providers do not have access to decryption keys. Filecoin works as an incentive
          layer on top of IPFS [1], which can provide storage infrastructure for any data. It is especially useful
          for decentralizing data, building and running distributed applications, and implementing smart contracts.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
          • (Score: 2) by Fnord666 on Monday August 14, @01:40PM

            by Fnord666 (652) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 14, @01:40PM (#553645)
            Fair point and I agree. I'll try to look at my submissions a bit better for points that could be clarified. Thanks for the feedback!
        • (Score: 2) by requerdanos on Saturday August 12, @10:37PM

          by requerdanos (5997) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 12, @10:37PM (#553004) Journal

          ...you're distributing storage amongst "many" storage providers, with redundancy, and using a cryptocurrency...distributed redundant...more reliable...individual providers...less reliable.

          Well, DUH! We all know that

          While this view may or may not be the prevailing one, I would hardly say that we "all" know it. There are plenty of people, even tech people, who have little to no exposure to the idea.

          I personally, for example, don't have much of a handle on it.

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday August 17, @03:20AM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 17, @03:20AM (#555109) Journal

        I read through it, not totally fathoming all the math.

        But I did find a few things that I thought needed some work?

        As Driven [soylentnews.org] indicated below, there is no geographic region mechanism to enforce replication on widely dispersed storage. The required replication could actually be on the drive right next to the first copy. The client can specify the number of replicates desired, but can't specify they should be in different data centers or at least not in the same river valley.

        There is no way a storage provider can meet their replication requirement by pushing the replicates to other providers - because the mechanism for proving replication is all within one storage provider.

        There is a built in data hostage situation. Since the price of storage and the price of recovery are negotiated separately, it is entirely possible that a miner (storage provider) with ill-intent could low bid the data storage then high bid the data retrieval price, such that if the held all of the replicates across their several servers they could charge a high price.

        Storage providers can determine if they hold most of the replicates. They might not know you had stored the data in separate storage providers, but there is enough information in the block chain to know if they hold a lot of any one group of data.
        The public nature of all the storage deals means that anyone can determine if they (or any other storage provider) provided ALL or most storage deals to Client X.

        Storage providers that are LARGE, (Amazon, Google, etc) are heavily favored by the algorithm of deciding who will win the bid for the next block of storage. Should the US Government decide to get into the storage market they could game the system such that they end up with just about all of someone's data. (And perhaps have the brute force to decrypt it).

        They prevent data deduplication. Seems unlikely this would happen anyway, (encryption) but their explanation of why is not at all convincing.

        On the other hand, they do provide for "Smart Contracts" which could bundle X retrieval instances into the storage price so you could assure the retrieval price would not make data recovery too costly. Or a mechanism where one Storage Provider would provide replicates in other parts of the network, not necessarily restricted to their own data centers.

        (But then they turn around and suggest use of smart contracts for silly uses like DNS, unique asset keys for tracking property, etc.)

        All in all I think it has a lot of merit. It doesn't wast machine cycles just to make things hard to calculate. It uses physical resources to provide a service.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 2) by bradley13 on Saturday August 12, @08:57AM (4 children)

    by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 12, @08:57AM (#552802) Homepage Journal

    The white paper is interesting, and does address all of the obvious issues. While I only skimmed it, I started with a list of questions regarding security, availability, reliability, and outright cheating by miners. The paper addressed all of the questions I had. Whether they have solved the issues is a different question, one that probably cannot be answered without some real-world trials. But they are at least working on them.

    That said, I'm not seeing the use case. If I want cloud storage, which is dirt cheap and easy to set up, why would I enter into the relatively complex world of FileCoin?

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Saturday August 12, @02:27PM (3 children)

      by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 12, @02:27PM (#552852) Journal

      If I want money storage, which at a bank is dirt cheap and easy to set up, why would I enter into the relatively complex world of Bitcoin?

      The more interesting question is: What is all the money needed for? Obviously Bitcoin could be developed and employed without big investor money. So what's different about Filecoin?

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 12, @06:00PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 12, @06:00PM (#552912)

        Efficiency? Security?

        Maybe obscurity? Or, flat out perversity? (just because we can)

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday August 12, @06:16PM (1 child)

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 12, @06:16PM (#552918) Journal

        What is all the money needed for?

        1) To incentivize you to offer up spare space on you NAS box(s) for "cloud" storage of random blocks of data from customers.
        2) To pay for storage you've stuffed into the cloud so as not to have your warez and porn on your own computer.

        I will gladly pay you Tuesday to hold my porn collection today. We'll use imaginary IOU notes to keep score.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 2) by edIII on Saturday August 12, @11:27PM

          by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 12, @11:27PM (#553027)

          I will gladly pay you Tuesday to hold my porn collection today.

          But why do that when the Internet holds my porn collection every day?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 12, @10:14AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 12, @10:14AM (#552816)

    Hey I have a nothing too!

    Cloud blockchain is my twin peaks baby metal cover band name!

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by driven on Saturday August 12, @12:36PM (1 child)

    by driven (6295) on Saturday August 12, @12:36PM (#552829)

    Interesting concept, but I didn't notice a "region" concept in the white paper. So you could have a large storage provider (eg. 100 hard drives in their basement) suddenly go offline or even 100 people in a single city go offline due to a power outage. There don't seem to be any guarantees that the data will be replicated to a separate geographical location.

    Second, if the data is private I would be hesitant to share it encrypted in public, as someone has as long as they want to try and decipher it offline. With quantum computing around the corner, this is even more of a possibility.

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday August 12, @06:22PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 12, @06:22PM (#552921) Journal

      Second, if the data is private I would be hesitant to share it encrypted in public, as someone has as long as they want to try and decipher it offline.

      Good point.

      In addition to requiring massive redundancy, you would also have to assure massive dispersal.
      Then you would also have to limit the percentage of files from any one source that would be allowed to exist in any specific replicate.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 12, @08:48PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 12, @08:48PM (#552963)

    did you burn me, Sia co-founder David Vorick? i own sia. did you jump ship instead of adding these improvements to sia? like sia speculators are just giving you money to work on other coins?

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Bot on Sunday August 13, @12:52AM (1 child)

    by Bot (3902) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 13, @12:52AM (#553058)

    Filecoin might be a white paper, and it is an interesting one, but the same company is behind ipfs which is very real. From what i gather the coin is a way to incentivize storage of ipfs blocks so the blockchain sees no data. In fact an ethereum token is being considered. Proof of storage is the difficult part, miners might download on demand instead of storing. Storage has timeout and payment is proportional to storage time. I will probably give it a spin, not to speculate but to trade bkp space. Using the cloud as more than backup is insane anyway.

    • (Score: 2) by Fnord666 on Monday August 14, @01:46PM

      by Fnord666 (652) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 14, @01:46PM (#553649)

      Filecoin might be a white paper, and it is an interesting one, but the same company is behind ipfs which is very real. From what i gather the coin is a way to incentivize storage of ipfs blocks so the blockchain sees no data. In fact an ethereum token is being considered. Proof of storage is the difficult part, miners might download on demand instead of storing. Storage has timeout and payment is proportional to storage time. I will probably give it a spin, not to speculate but to trade bkp space. Using the cloud as more than backup is insane anyway.

      This is actually something that they address and is supposed to be one of the more significant breakthroughs they have made. Have a look at their "Proof of Replication" whitepaper which details how they address a number of abuse cases where miners might try to get away with not actually storing unique copies of data blocks.

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