Classification: Utility Token
Function: Cloud Storage
Circulating supply: 33 030 623 997 SC
Total supply: ∞
Market cap: $490 412 281 USD
Exchanges: Bittrex, Upbit, Poloniex, Abucoins, HitBTC, Bisq, BITHOLIC
Consensus algorithm: PoW
Sia is a decentralized Cloud storage platform which contends with current storage solutions, at both the peer-to-peer and enterprise levels. Rather than renting storage from a centralized provider, peers on Sia rent storage from each other, as well as being able to host storage and earn Siacoins in return. Sia’s platform simply saves the storage contracts agreed upon between parties, while specifying the terms of their arrangement. A blockchain, similar to Bitcoin, is used for this purpose.
By agreeing to a contract, a storage provider (also known as a ‘host’) accepts to store a client’s data, and intermittently submits evidence of the continued storage until the contract expires. Siacoins permit the renting of storage through this network. A mixture of smart contracts, erasure coding, and encryption ensure a safe, private, and dependable decentralized storage capability. For every proof a host submits, the host is compensated. On the other hand, for every proof missed, the host is penalized. These proofs are openly verifiable (and are available to everyone in the blockchain); therefore, network consensus can be used to automatically impose the storage contracts.
Sia is a complete Content Delivery Network (CDN), with storage points in over 50 countries and over all the major continents. Sia has hosts within 50 milliseconds of every major city in the world. Offering low-latency storage to every city in the world, which can in particular helping streaming sites like YouTube, Netflix, etc., Sia is among the leading technologies to use.
Situated inside the Raptor Group offices in downtown Boston is Sia’s parent company, Nebulous, Inc. Nebulous continuously supports Sia’s core team by raising the venture capital needed for the development on their platform as the co-founders of Sia are also co-founders of Nebulous Inc.
Sia is an innovative take on Cloud storage platforms, especially because it helps spread wealth from untapped data storage. By ensuring that anyone is able to make money by renting out their hard drives, it prevents datacenters from being owned by only a few companies – thereby reducing their oligopolistic nature. The authenticity of data is protected using redundancy and cryptography, as mentioned in the technology section of this report.
Sia promises a decentralized network of datacenters that, taken together, comprise the world’s fastest, cheapest, and most secure Cloud storage platform. In order to be a key Cloud storage player, providers are required to have datacenters, have a certain amount of trust within the market, and are able to rival giants, i.e., Amazon AWS, Google, and Microsoft.
Penetrating and making a mark in this market is a multi-billion dollar endeavour. Sia envisions being the central storage layer of the internet.
Sia believes that data should be free, and aims to utilize the massive untapped storage offerings (our own personal hard drives) of the world in building the largest storage super-server on the planet. Moreover, Sia is also completely open source, which means that no explicit authorization and no payment of royalties or licensing fees are needed for customers to use the API.
Sia has the following plans for 2018:
- File sharing and other software improvements
- Enterprise partnerships: Sia wants companies like Dropbox and Netflix to use Sia to store and distribute their content. By the end of 2018, Sia will be looking for a number of purposeful partnerships with enterprises who want to utilize their storage solution. The initial approach is to start off as a secondary back-up (back-up for back-up) for enterprise data and to build reliability and dependency before primary back-up partnerships.
- Updated Sia brand: The Sia software has a streamlined and minimalistic feel, and the branding will be updated to showcase these qualities to appear more promising to companies. Similar changes, in terms of an updated logo, color scheme, and website, will make Sia feel more modern and clean.
- Overhauled Sia-UI: On top of updating the branding, they have assigned Luxor with the task of developing an overhauled Sia-UI. The Sia-UI will make the setup of Sia more simplified and allow easy use on a regular basis. Development on this is scheduled to start in Q1 of 2018.
- Community and support: Steve Funk has joined the team on a full-time basis as the Head of Support, and he will be tasked to prepare and compile updated guides and documentation for using Sia. SiaTV will be launched under his supervision, and will include video walkthroughs, tutorials, interviews, and more.
- Marketing and public relations: Despite keeping a low profile in previous years, Sia plans to change that in 2018. Being almost ready for early enterprise adoption, Sia has hired a public relations firm to help create awareness and interest in Sia and its decentralized Cloud storage. They will also be increasing their inbound marketing efforts, improving the blog, and publishing more high-quality content.
- Fundraising and team growth: Sia will be raising funds to invest in team growth and to increase the pace of software development.
This past year, we have seen a large influx of Sia core contributors, as well as projects being built on top of Sia.
To name a few:
Luxor: An organization that specializes in building Sia-centric applications and services. They have already renewed the Explorer and launched mining pools for Sia and Decred. As mentioned, they will also be working on the updated Sia-UI, in addition to other Sia apps in 2018.
Minebox: A company that is helping to build a Sia-connected network attached storage (NAS) device. Minebox was recently acquired by ClearCenter.
PixelDrain: A free file sharing website powered by Sia.
Obelisk: A subsidiary which is setting up ASIC mining hardware for Decred and Siacoin.
SiaBerry: An OS for using Sia on Raspberry Pi.
SiaDrive: A software that enables you to mount Sia as a drive on your desktop (to allow drag-and-drop, similar to Dropbox).
SiaHub and SiaStats: Network stats, charts, and metrics.
David Vorick (CEO at Nebulous): David has been active in the Bitcoin space since 2011. He studied computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and co-founded Nebulous in 2014 while in his senior year. Based in Boston, David and his team have dedicated the last three years towards building Sia as the leading decentralized Cloud storage network.
Luke Champine (Co-Founder): Luke is a co-founder, and core developer at Sia. He also studied computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and co-founded Nebulous, along with David in 2014, while in his senior year. Luke is one of the most active developers at Sia with over 2000 commits at github, second only to David.
Chris Schinnerl (Core developer): Chris studied Computer Science at Graz University of Technology, and achieved his undergrad degree while working as a software engineer for AVL List. He had been contributing to Sia via GitHub until he got to meet the team and was eventually employed.
Steve Funk (Head of Support): Steve is the most recent addition to Sia’s core team, he joined Sia as head of support in January 2018. He completed his bachelors from Drexel University and has since gone on to make his name in technology training, branding and media design. He has also worked as a trainer at apple and brings vital experience and value to Sia’s team at the branding side of the project.
Storage contracts are a new type of transaction that are enforced by the blockchain. Sia’s hashing algorithm is BLAKE2b. P2Pool and multi-signature wallets are both supported on Sia.
Using erasure coding in a massively distributed environment can help achieve reliability. Erasure coding enables a file to be divided into many pieces, in a way that the original file can be recovered using only a few of those pieces. For example, you can take a 50 MB file, split it into 200 pieces that are 1 MB each, and then easily recover the original file from any 50 of those pieces. This method has the same cost as making four complete copies of the file, but it is much more reliable because it is more unlikely that 151 out of 200 hosts will go offline than it is that four out of four hosts will go offline.
Using 200 hosts to store files means that downloads can be paralleled. Even in the case where the average Sia host does not have faster upload speeds, the massive parallelism ensured by Sia means that downloads will be incredibly fast regardless of hosts’ upload speeds. In addition to this, you can choose to connect only to the datacenters that are the closest in proximity and the fastest. This optimization (known as a CDN) is quite an expensive project for a conventional Cloud storage service, but for Sia it is a natural consequence of the decentralized network.
Third-party services cannot be held accountable for actions of their users. If someone commits a crime using a service that you are providing to them legally, they are the ones that committed the crime, not the host. This is analogous to people storing illegal content on a service such as Google Drive, where Google is not responsible for the content that is stored on their drives. Moreover, the file fragments stored with hosts are encrypted, so the host does not know what content they are storing for others. The encryption key is possessed by the uploader, and they are the only ones who can make files available again. If a host’s storage is scanned by law enforcement personnel, for example, it is still almost impossible for them to recover files they are storing for the Sia network. To do so, they will need to break the cipher or hack a vulnerability in Sia’s network, possess an adequate number of file parts from other drives to consolidate it (extremely unlikely as file parts are stored on different machines on the network), and also possess the private key of the uploader to decrypt it.
- Sia uses a recently introduced cryptocurrency called the ‘Siacoin.’
- The developers of Sia mined the initial 100 blocks before they released the code and miners to the public.
- The developers of Sia will be mining the initial 100 blocks before they release the code and miners to the public.
- Every Sc consists 10^24 indivisible units.
- All storage contracts and all Sia payment channels require ownership of Siacoins, and as a result, the value of the Siacoin is inextricably tied to the amount of storage in use on the Sia network.
- Sia has another cryptocurrency called the ‘Siafund.’ There are 10,000 Siafunds in total, and Sia’s parent organization, Nebulous Inc. holds around 8,750 of these Siafunds. The remaining Siafunds were sold off in a crowd-sale which helped to finance Sia’s early development, and 3.9% of all storage payouts go to the holders of the Siafunds.The primary goal of Siafund is to provide a method of financing the development of Sia without depending on any donations or a pre-mine.
Sia’s network relies on Siacoins for all transactions to occur. The basic function is to provide decentralized Cloud storage on hosts’ machines spread around the world. The renting of storage will cost the uploader Siacoins. The mechanism for rewarding the host is a little different, however.
Sia requires collateral in Siacoins for hosting. When a file is uploaded to Sia, a storage contract is created containing the Merkle root of the file, a reward for the host, and a penalty for the host (both in Siacoins). After an agreed-upon duration, the host is required to prove that the file is still available by providing a random Merkle proof. Random numbers are generated deterministically using the most recent block as a seed. If the proof is valid, the host is rewarded; and if not, the host is penalized. Therefore, in order to gain rewards, the host has to commit to his agreed-upon duration of hosting. Any violation of that agreement will not only take away the reward, but it will penalize the host in Siacoins. The penalties are based on multiple factors like up-time, the price of the contract and the collateral set by the host including other factors specified in ‘the host handbook’. The team believes this to be an adequate deterrent for violating hosting agreements.
Storj aims to become a Cloud storage platform that can’t be censored, monitored, or have downtime. It is the first decentralized, end-to-end encrypted Cloud storage that uses blockchain technology and cryptography to secure files. It is a platform, cryptocurrency, and suite of decentralized applications. Files stored on the network are encrypted, shredded into little pieces called ‘shards,’ and stored in a decentralized network of computers around the globe. Only the user has a complete copy of the file, not even in an encrypted form. Storj is completely developed and functional, and improvements are actively made and can be tracked on Github. Some key differences are:
- Sia is cheaper than Storj. Currently storing 1TB of data on Sia costs approximately $2/month – although the pricing is dynamic – while the same costs $15 on Storj.  Likewise, downloading bandwidth costs are $1/TB on Sia and $5/TB on Storj.
- Sia has a storage marketplace keeping price competition between hosts, whilst Storj has fixed pricing, as noted above.
- Sia is fully decentralized, while Storj has a central bridge. That is important because of three reasons, namely:
● Fault tolerance— decentralized systems are less likely to fail accidentally because they rely on many separate components that are not physically linked.
● Attack resistance— decentralized systems are more expensive to attack and destroy or manipulate because they lack sensitive central points.
● Collusion resistance — it is much harder for participants in decentralized systems to collude to act in ways that benefit them at the expense of other participants
- Storj accepts a variety of payment methods, which makes it more usable by organizations and individuals, unlike Sia, which only accepts Siacoins.
MaidSafe has a different value proposition against Sia in terms of their vision. Instead of only focusing on decentralized Cloud storage, they aim to reinvent the internet by making it truly decentralized and secure. It is not based on blockchain technology. They have made a SAFE network, which stands for ‘Secure Access for Everyone.’ This network operates by sharing the unused computer resources of individual network participants. Participants are compensated in MaidSafe tokens for sharing their resources. They use a new algorithm called ‘Proof of Resources.’ MaidSafe is currently in its 2nd alpha phase and still has some way to go before it develops into a fully autonomous data network that it aims to be. The installation and program in the alpha phase is user friendly, and is based on a simple click-and-install. It runs automatically after installation, with minimal technical knowledge required. However, as their focus is not entirely on Cloud storage, as well as being in development, companies like Sia might move ahead to score enterprise clients.
Sia is an innovative take on Cloud storage platforms. By ensuring that anyone is able to make money by renting out their hard drives, Sia prevents datacenters from being owned by a small number of large companies. The authenticity of data is protected using redundancy and cryptography. Sia promises a decentralized network of datacenters that, taken together, comprise the world’s fastest, cheapest, and most secure Cloud storage platform.
On January 11, 2018, the US congress voted for the renewal of the FISA Amendments Act.
“On Thursday, Congress voted down an effort to reform Section 702 of FISA Amendments Act, and instead passed a bill that expanded warrantless surveillance of US citizens and foreigners. The newly passed bill reauthorizes Section 702 for six years.”
In light of this recent violation of public privacy, projects like Sia open up a whole new alternative for people looking to protect their data online. This can benefit businesses using Sia, as they are inclined to keep their information private. With cryptocurrencies gaining traction worldwide, decentralized projects like Sia are ideally poised to gain a part of the limelight in the near future.
Overall, from a business perspective, Sia has all it takes for a project to succeed: a solid team, a disruptive idea, and an active community. Although still in progress, Sia has a working product and a solid promotional roadmap for 2018.
For coin-holders, the infinite supply of Siacoins may perhaps be a cause for concern. However, given the dwindling supply from mining rewards over time and continuous growth in storage contracts, in the long run those concerns can be set aside. Moreover, the fact that there has been little-to-no marketing at all for Sia means that the eventual exposure should bring with it a decent leeway for growth.
The hard-fork on January 21, 2018 addressed some bugs that have been a concern for miners in the recent past, and once addressed should bring more mining support on the platform. Furthermore, Bitmain has recently announced its own slew of specialized ASIC miners for Siacoin. Even though these are not more efficient than Sia’s own Obelisk miners, Bitmain might prove to be disruptive for their planned mining ecosystem. Sia developers have planned for that contingency with a possible soft fork that would render Bitmain’s Asics less efficient.
Still, Sia is positioned ahead of its competitors, with a fully operational platform and growing recognition in the decentralized revolution, it is likely to garner notable adoption with its impressive technology. Siacoin is definitely something to keep an eye on in 2018.
News & Resources
● The Sia hardfork occurred on January 21, 2018. The Sia difficulty adjustment algorithm needed a change to ensure that when ASICs begin mining Siacoin in mid-2018, the massive change in hashrate will not break Sia’s consensus functionality. This was only possible to ensure through a hard fork.
● Obelisk’s first Sia ASIC miner is scheduled to be released in June 2018. It will increase resistance to potentially 51% of attacks typical to decentralized PoW cryptocurrencies, and will increase the network security of the Sia blockchain.
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