At the time I write this, Filecoin is about to cross seven exabytes of storage capacity. It's now possible to imagine a future where apps or smart contracts on any blockchain can use Filecoin to solve persistence in a permissionless and decentralized way. We are excited to share that we have taken the first steps toward making this vision a reality.
Starting today, you can test our first functional bridge, deployed to the NEAR testnet and providing simple, permissionless storage. Additionally, we are sharing our plans and early progress to make the Filecoin bridge available on mainnets everywhere, including Ethereum, Polygon, and others.
The next era of blockchain storage
For years now, applications built on blockchains have faced difficulties solving data storage. The problem is that data stored directly on-chain is expensive (think $millions for gigabytes) and data stored off-chain can be fragile.
The off-chain approach has largely been solved with IPFS to-date, using content addressing to allow permanent, consistent, reliable keys on-chain to data stored on IPFS nodes. However, there are no incentives built into IPFS to persuade nodes to hold data for you or a smart contract. To deal with the persistence gap, developers often adopt approaches orthogonal to the goals of building on blockchains in the first place. Those approaches include embedding API keys and secrets in their dApps, self-hosting pinning infrastructure, or subscribing to centralized pinning infrastructure (including Textile's Hub).
Today, with advances in decentralized storage providers like Filecoin, Arweave, and Chia, we can imagine leveraging decentralized storage from any other blockchain. A fast and important first step to making that connection possible is the development of storage bridges. Below, we outline our simple three phase approach to releasing usable storage bridges, increasing their usability, and ultimately decentralizing them.
How it works
Phase 1 — Permissionless data storage on Filecoin.
In this phase, we are focused on providing permissionless storage to users and applications on each of the target blockchains. Like all our technologies, we aim to make storage bridges usable and easy to understand for end-users and developers. Below, we've already got an early release for you to play with and experience the simplicity for yourself!
Phase 2 — Deal reporting and indexing.
Textile will provide a query-able sub-graph for indexing deals facilitated by the bridge provider system. We are exploring making this possible by using The Graph. DApps and users will be able to query Filecoin deals and IPFS CIDs to create novel workflows that respond to deal updates and on-chain actions.
Phase 3 — Decentralized bridge governance.
After battle-testing the performance and scalability of storage providers, we will focus on bridge provider incentives and decentralizing governance of each bridge. The goal here is fully decentralized bridge providers and governance. If you are interested in running a bridge provider or collaborating on governance design, get in touch here.
Trying the first bridge
Starting today, you can test our first bridge deployment on the NEAR Testnet. This release offers a fully functional storage bridge that can store data from any NEAR address owner without any conversions, signups, or secrets exchanged.
NEAR deployment represents an important milestone on the path to bring permissionless data storage to all the web's users. However, permissionless is only the first part of the story. Through the phases listed above we plan to deliver decentralized bridges to NEAR and beyond.
Improving the rate, interoperability, and accessibility of data storage and exchange is something that drives us at Textile. We believe decentralized storage will open the floodgates to unexpected innovations using smart contracts. We are moving fast toward NEAR Mainnet, Ethereum release, and beyond. If you are building on NEAR or Ethereum and would like to collaborate or have ideas for using the new storage bridge, get in touch here or find us on https://slack.textile.io/.