The world is expanding digitally at a rapid pace at the moment, with the rise of the metaverse and various concepts such as NFT, DAO and Web 3.0. Everything in the world is evolving from offline to online. In this evolution, digitalization is the foundation and blockchain decentralization is the core.
Storage is a topic that cannot be avoided when talking about crypto projects, as the underlying storage technology is essential to the presentation and expression of everything in the digital world. In the crypto world, however, the organization, operation model and the storage of projects are mostly separated, that is, the projects themselves advocate a decentralization, but the storage method is not necessarily decentralized, as in the case of the many metaverse and NFT projects.
If the concept of decentralization is to be implemented more thoroughly, it will need to be matched with decentralized storage, so there is a huge market demand for decentralized storage.
Types of decentralized storage
Although decentralized storage has been around for less than a decade, there are already a number of different types of underlying logic that have evolved, both with and without blockchain technology. To go further, those that use blockchain technology can be subdivided into two forms: the coupling of blockchain and storage functions, and the decoupling of blockchain and storage functions.
Whenever decentralized storage is talked about, the first thing that comes to mind is blockchain. This is because blockchain is the mainstream technology used in the crypto field, but not all projects in the decentralized storage field use blockchain technology, such as IPFS.
IPFS was founded earlier and its vision was to create a more open and decentralized network to replace HTTP, with the main highlight being content addressing and the principle of data ‘fragment transmission’ and ‘block exchange protocols’ borrowed from the BT network, which allows data to be retrieved, accessed, uploaded and downloaded very quickly. Its decentralization is reflected in the fact that data is transmitted through nodes and there is no centralized data control centre. However, it is a self-driven network that lacks incentives, with nodes accessing and storing data out of choice and interest, making it difficult to guarantee data security and reliability, making it less of a quality storage platform and more of an open data transfer network.
2、Blockchain and storage function coupling
Most of the current mainstream decentralized storage projects couple blockchain and storage functions on design, such as Filecoin and Arweave. While both have different visions, philosophies and block generation principles, what is the same is that both use the blockchain to incentivize and generate block. In both Filecoin and Arweave’s networks, only miners who have stored data have access to block generation rights. This coupling makes storage and block generation rights closely linked, but it also changes the purpose of storage. In the Filecoin network, for example, the purpose of storing data is more for block generation than for the storage itself, which makes the Filecoin network store a lot of invalid data.
3、Layered scaling scheme
The feature of the decentralized storage layered scaling scheme is that although blockchain technology is used, it decouples the blockchain and storage functions. MEMO is a typical decentralized storage project that uses a layered scaling solution, compatible with EVM and can be linked to any Turing-complete public chain, storing smart contracts on the blockchain on one hand, while linking a large number of off-chain edge storage nodes to store user data on the other. It achieves on-chain and off-chain data consistency through verification proofs, smart contracts and other technologies.
Decoupling the storage function from the blockchain, allows the on-chain load, data redundancy and communication overhead of decentralized storage to be controlled, providing more room for optimization of each item’s performance.
Why layered scaling scheme is the future of decentralized storage
The Web3 world will usher in the explosive data growth, but what form of storage will be able to support the massive data storage requirements? With various consensus mechanisms and verification proofs operating together, the security foundation for decentralized storage has been built, however, the exploration of availability and data load is only just beginning.
The model of storing data directly on the chain is a direct coupling of the storage function and the blockchain, however, according to the feature of the blockchain, this model is not fit for the future. Because the blockchain is an expensive database, data exists directly on the chain, which means that all nodes on the chain must store a copy, which is affordable for small volumes of data, but for large volumes of data, it will bring a heavy burden of on-chain overhead and data redundancy to the blockchain. Therefore, the chain is not suitable for storing large volume data, and the on-chain storage architecture is not suitable as a large-scale decentralized storage architecture.
As for the other form of coupling between the storage function and the blockchain, it adopts a peer-to-peer order system to store data rather than storing data directly on the chain, however, this does not get rid of the logic of tying block generation and data storage together, that is, miners store data for the purpose of block generation, so this model is still bound by the blockchain, making availability and scalability limited.
To solve these problems, MEMO separates storage and block generation, focusing on building the intermediate infrastructure that links the on-chain and off-chain worlds. The layered thinking allows different data to be handled differently, with valuable on-chain resources used to store contracts and transactions, and massive off-chain resources used to store user raw data, while MEMO is responsible for unifying and collaborating on-chain contracts and off-chain transactions.
As an upgraded version of the Internet, Web3 requires not only security, reliability and privacy of data, but also an enhanced user experience. Layered scaling is a major step forward in exploring the scaling of decentralized storage. It transmits data to off-chain and turns it into an advantage, thus keeping the advantages of blockchain — decentralized transactions — while bypassing the disadvantages of its high redundancy and high latency.
Therefore, it is foreseeable that when the traditional model of coupling storage with blockchain cannot match the future demands of availability and scale, the layered scaling scheme is the future of decentralized storage and it will definitely become the core storage infrastructure of Web3.