Amazon hasn’t cracked China’s cloud market. This blockchain startup thinks it can.
For foreign cloud providers, entering China’s market is often more trouble than it’s worth. Not only are overseas firms required to form joint ventures with local companies, but they’re also prohibited from owning or operating certain types of cloud tech and hardware.
That’s why AWS sold off US$300 million worth of cloud assets to its Chinese partner earlier this week. Factor in China’s new data localization laws, and it’s no wonder that domestic firms captured more than 80 percent of revenue in China’s cloud industry this year.
Storj Labs, a US blockchain startup, thinks a decentralized model could soften some of those pain points. Instead of operating and running its own data centers, the startup runs a peer-to-peer Dropbox-like service that lets users (called ‘farmers’ in Storj parlance) rent out excess storage space on their hard drive. Farmers are paid in STORJ, the startup’s eponymous token. Payment details of file transfers are recorded on the Ethereum blockchain.
It’s an asset-light cloud storage model that Storj Labs claims mitigates traditional data failures and cuts costs. Users who want to store their data with Storj can pay US$0.015 per gigabyte per month. AWS’s equivalent service goes for US$0.023.
“I think it’s probably early to say that we’re going to disrupt AWS, Microsoft, and Google, but we do think that there is the potential to take a huge unused resource […] and bring that to market,” John Quinn, co-founder of Storj Labs, tells Tech in Asia, referring to excess storage capacity.