Storj hosted a webinar featuring their customers to discover what early business adopters of Storj thought about their evaluation and consequent decision to adopt decentralized storage. In addition, guest speaker, Forrester VP and Principal Analyst, Martha Bennett, joined to share insights that arise during discussions with enterprises about their moves to Web3. The outcome produced great advice for enterprises thinking about moving from Web2 to Web3 technologies. This article covers key guidance shared in the webinar, but you can hear the complete discussion by listening to the on-demand webinar.
Enterprises have some real (and some mythical) concerns
During the panel, Martha Bennett shared that in her job as a Forrester VP and Principal Analyst covering blockchain and emerging technologies for enterprises, she has lots of conversations with companies about decentralized, or Web3, technologies. “The majority of enterprises don’t yet understand what they are looking at with decentralization. I’m still having to do a lot of demystification to set the record straight on certain misconceptions.” One of the most common misconceptions Bennett encounters is the idea that decentralized technologies all rely on crypto currency, which because of energy consumption isn’t good for enterprises. “So I have to talk them through it that no, that is a Bitcoin problem, not a decentralized problem.”
Cryptocurrency is a big turnoff for enterprises. “Most enterprises don’t want to get anywhere near cryptocurrency,” Bennett stated. “If you want something enterprise grade, it needs to not involve crypto. That said, some technologies have emerged that are enterprise-grade.” Bennett said much of her time is spent educating enterprises on the separation between cryptocurrency and technologies that do not rely on the blockchain or cryptocurrency. Once they understand that, the discussion can move on to questions like:
- Can I guarantee privacy and confidentiality?
- Is this secure?
- Will it scale?
- Can I actually have some form of contractual certainty here?
- Will the costs be consistent?
While many enterprises are still hesitant to embrace Web3, first-movers are well on their way to bringing decentralized technology into their mix for appropriate use cases. Bennett complimented fellow webinar panelists, Louis-Frederic Laszlo, VP Product Management at Atempo and Alen Peacock, Director of Cloud at Gabb Wireless. “My fellow panelists clearly know how to navigate the Web3 landscape. They know what they are looking for and what they are looking at so they can take advantage of this new technology.”
How enterprises should evaluate Web3 technologies
We asked our webinar panelists how to advise clients on evaluating Web3 vendors. Bennett definitively answered, “I tell them to evaluate them against enterprise grade criteria. Be as tough as you need to be. That is absolutely okay.” To determine if a decentralized vendor is enterprise-grade, Bennett said to ask the following questions early on:
- Can I control where my data is actually going to reside?
- Can I avoid direct exposure to cryptocurrency?
- Can I preserve confidentiality?
- Do I have an actual contract?
- Do I have reliable pricing?
- Does this lower my risk of breach?
- Does this keep me compliant with regulations?
- Does this deliver the same or better performance?
But Bennett said the fundamental piece that must be in place at an enterprise in order to embrace something like distributed storage is “a willingness to engage with a different way of doing things.” The most likely candidates are companies on top of their cloud strategies. They should start by looking at what they could offer in a different way. It might be streaming, large file storage, or backups. Bennett encourages enterprises to “look at your end-to-end requirements and then you can assess if decentralized technologies are a fit.”
Adding to this advice, Laszlo of Atempo said, “Most enterprises we work with have at least three different clouds. Different storage technologies have the right capabilities for different business unit needs. There is no absolute solution for everything. But rather, what is the best solution for each use case.”
Peacock of Gabb Wireless added, “It's much easier to scrutinize a system that has some open source components like Storj does.” This makes decentralized systems much easier to evaluate than enterprises think.
Of course, all panelists agreed that once a technology is deemed ‘enterprise-grade’, enterprises need to evaluate it for cost, performance, and security for each use case to find the right storage solution.
Improved security is one of the biggest attractors for businesses
Peacock from Gabb Wireless had a lot to say about the difference in security between traditional cloud storage and Web3 decentralized cloud storage. “Look at the disparity of traditional cloud storage. When you have physical control of all the servers in a tightly controlled data center, you can often take some shortcuts with technology itself that lessens security. Whereas, when you’re creating a service on top of assets that you don’t control, you have to get the security model right. And you have to get it right from the beginning. That is what Storj has done with its distributed architecture and that is a very attractive feature for us.”
Peacock later reinforced this by saying, “It is much easier to trust a system that is built in a hostile environment than one that is built in a friendly environment. Storj had to build for all the attack vectors so we get a lot of peace of mind and assurance from decentralization.”
The cost savings make the transition to distributed storage regret-free
Atempo helps companies manage and protect their data and backups are a big part of how that is accomplished. Often companies pay additional money for cloud storage to add replication, copies of their backup files, to lower the risk of data loss. With Storj distributed storage, it removes the need for replication, which Laszlo says equates to a big cost savings. “Instead of having two copies at double the price, like in traditional cloud storage, decentralization brings a way to distribute my data across different nodes and to have the guarantee that all my data is available when I will need it at no additional price.”
From a development standpoint, Laszlo also points out there are cost savings from not having to code the replication. “Normally to offer this capability to distribute backup copies requires coding. Operation calculation, manual calculation to do replication with copies and have them sent to different storage nodes. But with Storj, you have the guarantee that all your data will be distributed across the world on different nodes with guaranteed access and availability of the data all the time.” This minimizes the development effort and saves both Atempo and their customers money.
Bennett added that there can be significant cost savings from eliminating disaster recovery scenarios in the first place. “During DR, restoring from backup can be a major task. There is no recovery scenario with decentralized storage because you’ve got that resilience built in.”
Of course the cost of decentralized cloud storage is a fraction of the cost of traditional cloud storage. Peacock said this provides incredible economic advantages for growing their business. “I continue to get surprised glances from other executives in the company when we talk about the economics of Storj. Decentralized solutions can provide economic advantages in terms of cost, which allows companies that use them to create value for their customers.”
Use cases where distributed storage excels for enterprises
The first point the panel brought up about enterprise use cases is the fact that many decentralized technologies have compatibility with enterprise solutions to make switching easier. Peacock said this was an important criterion for Gabb Wireless and enabled them to ensure they weren’t locked in if something didn’t go as expected. “We are in the golden age of the cloud where we have common layers shared across providers. Storj is S3 compatible which gives us ease of use. But, it also gives us comfort that we aren’t locked in. Lots of cloud providers use tricks to lock you in, from pricing gotchas to complimentary technologies that can’t be transferred. Enterprises need to be aware of this and ensure you can easily switch if needed.”
Laszlo chimed in that they have tested Storj for many scenarios and have been really impressed with all it can handle. “Integration was very easy, It was really plug and play. But what has really been surprising is the performance we reach. We have tested Storj in very large and complex configurations and it keeps surpassing our performance expectations. This has been a very big and really good surprise for us.”
Laszlo and Peacock agreed that the decentralized architecture of Storj excels at any object storage use case where files need high security and high performance at a low cost. This can be anything from backup scenarios to video streaming. Taking a look at use cases within an enterprise where one of those three factors are out of sync with the desired outcome is the best place to start experimenting with distributed storage.
Is the future of cloud storage globally distributed?
The final topic in the webinar was the question of whether or not the future will be decentralized just like encryption has become a standard today. Bennett answered with a definitive “yes”. Of course she added the caveat that “governance models do need to change, but decentralization is the direction.” Bennett added that this requires planning. “Companies need to think about their storage requirements today, but also what they need to offer in the future and what services they need to add to be competitive. And how will they deliver it in a way that minimizes the risk of data exposure.”
Laszlo chimed in, “There are already lots of decentralized storage solutions on the market, but Storj is the only one that has succeeded to date in tackling the issues to make it enterprise-grade and easy to use for the enterprise. And it is much less expensive without having to get involved with Wallet and crypto.” Laszlo went on to say, “With the advantages of decentralized storage providing accessibility, distribution, and availability of data anywhere, anytime, enterprises have no reason to wait to get started using Storj.”
Peacock added that getting involved in decentralized and Web3 technologies can also be a competitive advantage for companies—both with product and people. “You can attract better talent when you are doing interesting things. And that helps enterprises and helps their customers. Really, it is a benefit to everybody.”
Want to hear the full discussion? Listen to the on demand webinar here.