Former Docker CEO Joins Blockchain Storage Platform Storj Labs

Former Docker CEO Ben Golub wants to help enable Storj Labs to become the Airbnb of the storage industry with a crowdsourced model for distributed storage.

Ben Golub Storj Labs

Blockchain-based distributed storage vendor Storj Labs announced on March 12 that it has appointed former Docker CEO Ben Golub as its executive chairman and interim CEO.

Golub was replaced as Docker's CEO in May 2017, after leading the container vendor through its early stages and helping to build a profitable foundation for the business. Prior to Docker, Golub was the CEO of open-source storage startup Gluster, which he sold to Red Hat in 2011 for $136 million. Storj Labs brings Golub back to the world of storage, though the company has a very different model than a traditional storage vendor.

"Storj is addressing a number of really big issues that all fall into the category of enabling decentralized computing at scale," Golub told eWEEK. "Storj has also created an interesting economic model that makes it look like the Airbnb of storage."

Storj Labs rolled out its distributed storage platform in February 2017. Rather than having centralized cloud resources for storage, Storj has a crowdsourced model that enables individuals to share their unused storage capacity in a secure, encrypted way that makes use of blockchain. Storj calls those who make their unused storage space available "farmers" and provides a marketplace whereby farmers can sell the storage space to anyone who wants distributed storage. The Storj platform uses a sharded approach for data storage, meaning that data is broken up, or "sharded," into multiple pieces that are spread across storage nodes.

"Docker would be a hard act to beat in term of the raw potential and the opportunity to touch such a broad swath of the computing landscape," Golub said. "While Docker is becoming the computing layer of the internet, I think that Storj can become the storage layer of the internet."

Blockchain

Among the core technologies that enable Storj is the blockchain distributed ledger system. When Storj first launched, the platform used the Bitcoin blockchain but has since embraced the Ethereum blockchain. Although blockchain is a core element of the Storj platform, Golub said Storj is about a lot more just another startup that is using blockchain.

"Blockchain is an important part of Storj, but decentralized computing is a lot bigger than just blockchain," he said. 

That said, Golub noted that Storj has a blockchain-based token that enables the network to work. Blockchain is used to help facilitate payment and exchange and can help to ensure data integrity and trust, he said. Storj has also used blockchain to raise funding. Storj raised $3 million in seed funding from Qualcomm Ventures and Techstars in February 2017 and an additional $30 million in an initial coin offering in May 2017.

Shawn Wilkinson, founder of Storj Labs, said that over the past year, the Storj platform has been rearchitected to enable larger scale. Wilkinson told eWEEK that Storj Labs is now storing over 40 petabytes of data, with plans to scale up to the exabyte range. Golub added that the Storj network has more than 150,000 storage nodes operated by thousands of individuals and organizations around the world.

Compliance

With Storj, data is stored on a distributed, crowdsourced network of storage pools that, according to Golub, can actually improve security.

"The system has been designed to be very secure, with all the data encrypted and sharded across multiple storage nodes, run in different locations by different individuals," Golub said. "The system is also highly resilient."

Golub noted that the distributed nature of the Storj platform, with data sharded across different nodes in multiple geographic locations, makes the platform more resilient than data stored in a single central location. He expects that over time, Storj will be used for a wide range of applications that need data to be stored in a highly available and secure manner. Storj might also be able to help organizations that need to deal with compliance and specifically the European Union's upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

"Storj nodes are being operated in over 200 countries and territories, and the system has been designed so users can tag where data can and can't be," Golub said. "As a result, Storj should be very good for auditing GDPR and making sure data is only run in certain locations."

Currently Storj primarily is used for scratch or temporary storage use cases, but the direction for the company is to have a set of use cases for higher-value storage as well, according to Golub.

"As compared to cloud storage from a large public cloud provider, the way we have designed Storj will make it a lot more economical for many use cases," he said. "Storj is more available, secure and a lot closer to the edge."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.