Making a private blockchain file storage easy for users

Blockchains have had their fame from the middle 2010’s to now.  But one thing that has not been solved is how to easily implement, maintain, and most importantly use a blockchain for storing files. Especially as an individual user, use of a blockchain beyond crypto currencies is a mystery.

As Taekion was developing a groundbreaking application for the energy industry and then a similar one for a military application, ease of use became paramount. There are many complex applications to protect data, the Taekion product needed to be easy.  All of the customers we talked to had a variety of solutions to keep their data safe: they had encrypted drives, encrypted VPN’s, etc. But usage varied and the variety of users turned out to be the biggest driver for ease of use.  Getting the end user or system administrator and individual users with high value data to use the product. The goal in fact was to make the blockchain fade into the background for a user, and make the system administration easy for those administering it. After all, the most successful products of all time are so familiar that people take them for granted.

 

The user interface is the obvious way to make a product easy to use.  We could have gone down the database route, but this is an area that requires changes to make it easy to use, and then becomes its own complex product. We looked at where most important files are stored.  The answer was clear – using conventional file systems. And that was the interface that was familiar and easy to use for most users. File systems are used everywhere, from shared corporate systems, to storage on IOT devices, to log files etc. This is a standard way to store and find files.  We had our solution, make sure our product conforms to a file system just like those users are used to seeing and systems are programmed to interact with.  So we created the Taekion File System (TFS) for full file private blockchain immutable integrity.

The problem in creating TFS is how can you make a blockchain encrypted file system so simple, you forget it’s a blockchain. We wanted to change the way to use the blockchain, not build an interface off of the chain. Breaking the normal blockchain paradigm. 

The first paradigm shift was storing full files, not a hash of the file that also requires you to store the full file in all nodes, as blockchains have been designed. We store the entire file, and do not require separate storage for the file, it is on the blockchain, encrypted and distributed. 

 

The second was making it easy to store and find files and all the changes associated with them. A blockchain is not used to organizing data like that and we have built the interface that pulls all of the information together and acts like a normal system. 

 

Lastly we needed to reduce storage of the files and changes.  Our approach is patent pending, but simply think of “copy on write” as analogous to the technique we use. In future blogs we will talk about overcoming the challenge of redundant data and why storing an entire file not only makes blockchain file storage better but more easily trackable.

 

And lastly making it easy for the end user or system administrator. On a Mac or Linux, mount the volume as a “drive” and you can drag and drop files directly to the volume – which happens to be a blockchain.  When you connect to the blockchain’s network  it automatically syncs the files. A system administrator simply mounts the volume on their system and it looks and acts like any other volume on the system.  To make it even easier to do this we have teamed up with Blockchain Technology Partners (BTP)  and created Sextant | TFS to handle the deployment and management of TFS itself. More to come on future blogs on how to use our TFS within your computer or network.

 

The answer to “ease of use” for a blockchain is to make it easy to consume, using familiar workflows, just like those people and machines use today. TFS fulfills that requirement by blending in as a common file system to the end user, but offering the security and immutability of a blockchain. We hope you will try out our Taekion File System (TFS) for your most important files.