Storj Labs has made generally available a distributed storage platform based on the excess capacity available on devices ranging from servers to individual desktops.
Company CEO Ben Golub said the goal is to provide IT organizations with an alternative to storing data inexpensively using storage resources that have been vetted by Storj Labs.
At the core of the Tardigrade Decentralized Cloud Storage Service provided by Storj Labs is an open source object storage system that is compatible with the S3 application programming interface (API) defined by Amazon Web Services (AWS). That object storage system distributes 80 slices of a file across a subset of thousands of nodes that each contain only a slice of the data required to reconstruct that file when needed. Only 29 of those slices are needed to reconstruct a file, so Golub said it’s relatively simple to ensure data is secure without having to manage encryption keys.
Following an extensive beta test of the Tardigrade, the company claims to have achieved 99.95% availability, with a service level agreement of 99.9999999% achieved in terms of durability. Golub said Tardigrade makes use of erasure coding to make sure data is distributed in a highly resilient fashion.
Storj Labs compensates owners and data centers along with individuals with access to a lot of excess storage capacity for making capacity available, Golub said. Most storage drives are not anywhere near full capacity, which Golub noted has made it relatively easy for Storj Labs to amass 19PB of storage for its Tardigrade service. Each provider of storage capacity is required to pass a series of data stewardship tests for a period of time before being allowed to become a member of the Tardigrade service.
Storj Labs has also set up an open source partner program through which any open source project with a Tardigrade connector will receive a portion of the storage revenue generated by users of that software. That approach allows participants in projects to be partially compensated for their efforts as alternatives to cloud service providers, which routinely commercialize open source software without helping to fund its development, said Golub. Based on his previous experience as CEO of Docker Inc., he noted many open source projects die on the vine simply because the team that created it simply can’t afford to sustain it.
Interest in Tardigrade Decentralized Cloud Storage Service for certain use cases as an alternative to pubic clouds could be high, he said, given the fact that there has been no meaningful decline in cloud storage service pricing in the last three years. Use cases that should prove to be especially appealing include data protection and image retention. Storj Labs is also making available a library of bindings for Go, Android, C, .NET/Xamarin, Node.js, Swift and Python to make it easier for developers to invoke Tardigrade storage services as code.
It may be a while before IT organizations are completely comfortable with decentralized storage services as an alternative to public clouds. However, as the amount of data that needs to be stored continues to grow, every option available to store data may be needed soon.