Hey, fren! gm. ☀️
In the previous article, I covered the concept of Decentralized Storage, and we learned about some popular dStorage protocols and platforms.
In this post, I'll continue from where we left off and learn about the Züs Network, previously known as 0Chain.
So, without further ado, let's get started!
A Primer on Decentralized Storage
Decentralized Storage is a type of storage system that does not rely on a central server or authority.
Unlike a centralized storage system which is managed & operated by a single centralized entity, decentralized storage is operated by a peer-to-peer (P2P) network of user-operated nodes, each of which stores a copy of the data creating a resilient file storage-sharing system.
This makes it much more resistant to censorship and attack than traditional storage systems.
So, what is the Züs Network?
Züs is a high-performance decentralized storage platform that claims to be on par with centralized services like AWS & Azure in terms of speed & efficiency.
The Züs network aims to provide enterprise-grade cloud storage that is fast, cheap, robust, and fully decentralized. The Züs network is set for a pre-mainnet launch on 15th December 2022, while the mainnet launch is planned for early 2023.
Challenges with Decentralized Storage
Decentralized cloud storage is complex & challenging due to the fact that storing large chunks of data on-chain is a tough ask, especially if you want to make it as fast & accessible as the centralized counterparts.
General-purpose blockchains, like Ethereum, become a bit unfeasible & gas-inefficient to store large amounts of data and often use Layer-2 or side-chain solutions to ensure the main chain remains unclogged.
The Züs blockchain, previously 0Chain, was built from scratch and uses a mainchain and a network of side chains to achieve a fast, efficient, scalable, and enterprise-grade decentralized storage solution.
Unlike other dStorage platforms, like Filecoin, Züs does not store data on the main chain. Instead, it stores data within a smart contract that serves as a storage protocol within the main chain.
With the integration of a storage protocol into its main chain, Züs network is structurally different from other already-established dStorage solutions like Filecoin.
For example, Filecoin is built on top of IPFS. IPFS is a P2P protocol for storing, accessing, and sharing data in a distributed file system.
But since IPFS is much more suitable for archival storage (much like a storage unit to store stuff that we don't need frequently), it is not an ideal solution for enterprise usage.
Websites & applications with large user bases need fast storage solutions that can process read/write commands at blazing speed. Hence they make use of enterprise solutions like AWS.
Since Züs network caters to enterprise-grade storage solutions, it takes a different approach to storage.
How does the Züs Network work?
The Züs network leverages its unique two-layer blockchain built from scratch that utilizes a Delegated Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism.
The Main Chain
The main chain of the Züs network is the consensus layer. We know that, in a typical blockchain, new blocks are proposed and mined by miners or validators and added to the end of the blockchain. Since new blocks are mined every second, broadcasting the entire block history can require much work.
The Züs blockchain takes an entirely different approach when it comes to mining and storing block history.
The Züs network consists of miners and sharders. The miners mine new blocks, and sharders store the blocks in the Züs blockchain.
At a given point in time, there are a total of 100 miners and 25 sharder slots available. The order in which a miner mines a new block and a sharder stores the block is processed by a VRF and is entirely random.
This splitting of duty between miners and sharders results in a faster blockchain ideal for enterprise storage solutions.
Miners currently participating in the block mining process are referred to as being in the active set. Periodically, the miners in the active set are shuffled out, and new miners are selected to start the next round (a round is a process of producing a single block).
The Side Chain network:
The second layer of the Züs blockchain is the storage protocol, composed of blobbers. In the Züs network, storage space is provided by specialized entities called "Blobbers".
A blobber lends storage space to users and is responsible for storing the data in exchange for a reward.
When a user initiates a storage agreement with a blobber, the user locks their tokens to pay for storage, and the blobber stakes the total value of the storage agreement in 'ZCN', the native utility token of Züs blockchain, as collateral.
If the blobber doesn't store the files requested by the user, they lose their staked tokens.
The total amount of locked tokens and staked tokens by both user & blobber are batched into a storage agreement. One portion of the tokens is divided into two pools: A Reward Pool and a Challenge Pool.
Tokens from the reward pool are paid out to the blobbers as an incentive to store user files and provide instant & fast access to those files.
A miner will randomly send a challenge to a blobber asking the blobber to validate a chunk of data, and the only way for a blobber to validate that chunk of data is to prove that they have that data stored.
If the blobber passes the challenge of validating the data, it will get paid in tokens from the challenge pool. If the blobber doesn't pass the challenge, it will lose some amount of its staked tokens.
In a nutshell, a blobber can get paid out in two ways:
1️⃣ for providing data requested by the user,
2️⃣ passing random challenges from the challenge protocol to prove they actually have the data. If the blobber fails to pass the challenge, they lose an amount from their staked tokens.
For storage, there are different amounts of storage that the blobber must understand:
- Capacity: total storage that a blobber physically offers.
- Staked Capacity: the amount of storage capacity backed by staked tokens
- Free Capacity: the amount of staked capacity that a user has not already purchased.
- Purchased Capacity: the amount a user has currently purchased out of the staked capacity, irrespective of whether they are storing anything.
- Used Storage: The amount the user is currently using out of the purchased capacity.
The Züs architecture is designed so that the actual data doesn't need to be stored on-chain to get the benefits of decentralized storage. The team behind Züs believes that storing data on-chain would require many redundancies and sacrifice network performance.
Instead, they believe that the two primary categories of work that need to be done on-chain are: File Activity and Challenge Protocol.
File Activity can be understood as a bunch of checkpoints of a user's storage journey, such as activation of storage subscription, file access (read/write commands) data, etc.
Challenge Protocol is a process of holding the blobbers accountable for storing data off-chain. The miners challenge the blobbers to ensure that they keep the files stored as per their storage agreement by issuing the blobbers random checks on their data.
To make sure that the blobbers are always storing data, the challenges need to be random based on the VRF.
When a new block is mined, the miners will slash some amount from the stake of blobbers who either failed a challenge or have not responded within the allowed time.
The Challenge Protocol consists of three phases:
1️⃣ Challenge Issuance Phase: a single block of a file stored by a specific blobber is randomly selected using a VRF.
2️⃣ Justification Phase: The blobber broadcasts data to validators along with the file metadata that must be verified to pass the challenge.
3️⃣ Judgement Phase: finally, the validators share their results on whether the blobber passed the challenge or not.
Züs is a decentralized storage platform aiming to offer fast, scalable, efficient, high-performance, and enterprise-grade solutions.
To make this happen, the Züs network utilizes its main blockchain (for the consensus mechanism) and a network of sidechains (to store the data).
Blobbers are incentivized to lend their storage space. Blobbers form a storage agreement with users and are rewarded with ZCN tokens.
With the current developments and roadmap of the Züs network, it will be pretty exciting to witness whether Züs leads the way with its high speed/low latency, cheap, interoperable decentralized storage solution since it claims to be superior to other dStorage platforms in the space.
That's it for now, fren!
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