Decentralized data storage has emerged as a challenger to traditional cloud storage and may represent a significant shift in how organizations distribute and store data in the future. Decentralized storage options are already available from a number of companies, some of which use blockchain technology to facilitate storage operations and validate transactions across a distributed network.
Data is encrypted and stored across multiple locations, or nodes, that are run by individuals or organisations that share their extra disc space for a fee. The private encryption key is only held by the data’s owner; storage providers cannot access the data. In many cases, the files are also shared and distributed across multiple locations, adding another layer of storage security.
Centralising data analysis is analogous to ensuring that every room receives power from the main electrical grid. The lights turn on throughout the house. More importantly, because you know how the wiring is connected from room to room, you can remodel the building however you want. Because you have that governing body that can become the catalyst for driving a data-driven culture, change management becomes much easier.
Transitioning from a decentralised to a centralised model has actually increased our agility at Rackspace Technology. We’ve increased efficiency to the point where we can get six times as much work done with the same size team. Centralization does not imply sacrificing data democratisation. I’ve been with the company for a year and A year and a half ago, the number of employees using data in their daily work had increased more than tenfold.
Digital transformation is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and in some cases, decentralisation may make more sense for a company. However, most organisations, in my experience, benefit from centralising data analytics and decision-making under a central data office. If you’re ready to make the switch, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
Begin with business objectives. The ultimate goal of any data initiative is to serve the business, so prioritise your centralization efforts by identifying your company’s top strategic priorities. Our top priorities at Rackspace Technology were to improve customer experience and reduce churn, which is why my first data initiative focused on NPS.A
Set up a knowledge exchange. The next step is to begin constructing a comprehensive picture of how data is used throughout the organisation. What metrics are tracked, and how are they calculated? What tools are used by each department? Begin with the use cases that are most closely related to the business objectives you identified in the first step.
Staffing should be centralised. Prepare to reintegrate the data analysts who are currently dispersed across departments into your central data office. They design their new roles to capitalise on the domain expertise they’ve gained while collaborating with business units. We trained many of these team members in data visualisation and storytelling at Rackspace Technology and placed them as consultants who spend their time brainstorming solutions to business problems.
Decentralized storage has grown in popularity in recent years, and there are now numerous options available. The majority of these products rely on blockchain technology to support their storage strategies. However, blockchain and decentralised storage are not synonymous, and one can exist independently of the other. Consider the following seven decentralised data storage products:
While some other decentralised data storage solutions prioritise privacy or avoid censorship and monitoring, Arweave is built for data longevity.
Arweave is a blockchain-like peer-to-peer (P2P) storage protocol that provides additional storage capacity on PCs acting as Arweave clients. Permaweb is the application that allows data storage and other functionality. The Permaweb is an immutable environment for storing static files and other types of data, such as webpages. Those who want to store data must pay a one-time fee in the form of AR tokens, which are available from most crypto exchanges.
Arweave is entirely community-driven and only works with Linux.
BitTorrent is one of the most well-known and oldest decentralised data storage networks. BitTorrent, which was founded in 2001, rose to prominence as a platform for sharing pirated media. BitTorrent, on the other hand, evolved over time into an entire suite of products, including the BitTorrent File System (BTFS).
BTFS is a scalable, decentralised storage system intended to lower storage costs, improve fault tolerance, and avoid government censorship. BTFS, like other distributed storage networks, is dependent on user nodes. However, one feature that distinguishes BitTorrent from other networks is the presence of more than 100 million user nodes. Furthermore, BTFS is blockchain-based and operates on the TRON network. There are over 1,000 complete TRON nodes.
MaidSafe is a small group of people working on the Safe Network, an autonomous global network made up of storage nodes. The software manages storage across the network as a whole, securely routing data and messages between nodes. Nodes are organised into sections that govern the data stored in them. Section formation and data movement are all self-contained operations that do not require centralised servers, agents, or human oversight.
Anyone, subject to a resource test, can join the network anonymously as a provider, and anyone can store data or access public information on the network. The Safe project also includes an API that developers can use to interact with the network directly.
Sia, like Filecoin, employs blockchain technology to provide a decentralised data storage platform that encrypts and distributes files across a global peer-to-peer network. The Sia client software, which is available for Windows, Linux, and macOS, divides each file into 30 segments and distributes them to various hosts.
Nobody would build a house with “decentralised” electrical wiring, and even if they did, it would be illegal. So, why are so many businesses opting to decentralise data analytics? If you’re having trouble getting the results you want from your data programmes, consider bringing analytics and decision-making across your organisation under the umbrella of a centralised data office. It could be all you need to finally turn on all the lights—and reap the benefits of increased efficiency and faster, more useful insights across all departments.
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