Sia: Welcome on a Journey towards Decentralized Cloud Storage (Part 1)

A blog post series about Sia, the decentralized, blockchain-based cloud storage project, its network, technology and coin.

Parts of this series: (1) Intro — (2) Long-term — (3) Mid-term — (4) Competitors — (5) Investing — or Read more about Sia


Ever since a crypto-enthusiastic friend mentioned Sia, the project has held my interest. Sia provides cloud storage, like Amazon S3 or Dropbox. But in contrast to existing solutions, Sia will be decentralized and as trust-free as possible, using blockchain and its own cryptocurrency. That's an exciting goal for once, possibly a good use-case for these hip technologies, and hey the team might just make it. So I looked into the project. In this series, I'll share my research on Sia.

To not overwhelm you with content, let's start with disclaimers: I'm not a professional investor, I certainly don't give investment advice. I'm quite new to crypto, so take everything with a pinch of salt and other spices of your liking. And of course, I didn't do all this research (just) for the joy of it, but because I'm interested in investing. And while I've by now spend a good amount of time on this, you can be sure there'll still be plenty of errors. In addition, I've written this series over a time of three months, between November 2017 and January 2018, and while I tried to update it at the end, expect some things to be outdated. All in all: Do your own research. Don't trust. Verify. (The blockchain approach: Don't trust individuals. Trust the network.)

With that in mind, let's start with the most basic question first.

What is Sia?

Here's a quote from Sia's About page:

The promise of Sia is a decentralized network of datacenters that, taken together, comprise the world's fastest, cheapest, and most secure cloud storage platform.

In my own words: Sia wants to be the hard drive of the internet. It wants to be the one place where companies, and also people like you and me, store their pictures, emails, posts, tweets, bank statements, customer records, Powerpoint presentations, everything.

And to be sure, it's mostly about companies: You don't store your Facebook posts and your tweets yourself. Facebook and Twitter do. That means Sia will have to be mostly a B2B service provider. If you're technically inclined, then think of Sia as an AWS S3 and eventually also a Cloudflare competitor.

Less abstract, please! Alright. Here some cold data:

  • Sia is built by Nebulous Labs, a company in Boston.
  • Nebulous operates Sia. Sia is a decentralized network of hosts that rent out storage space. The network is operating since 2015 already.
  • To upload and access files in Sia, you use the Sia software client.
  • You can be a renter, too, if you have a computer that is constantly online and has a couple of terrabyte of unused storage space.
  • Sia's own cryptocurrency, Siacoin (SC), is used for payments. So, if you want to rent storage space, you need Siacoin. It is based on the Bitcoin software, but is not a fork of the Bitcoin blockchain. Based on circulating coins, it has a market cap of hundreds of millions of dollars and is found in the top 40 of cryptocurrencies.

Want more details? You're in the right place! I've looked at the project for a while, and I'll share my notes with you. Hopefully I can answer some questions and otherwise give you some useful pointers for further reading and researching.

How to go about this? Sia, and all other investment opportunities, can be approached from various angles, depending on your interest. It's like a roadtrip. You can hitch a ride to the grocery store, you can enjoy the jolly company for a day or two, or you can come for the grand destination at the end of the road, the beach, the mountain resort or whatever. Same goes for investing. To acknowledge these different interests, I've split up my research into several parts.

For feedback, clarifications or a simple thank you, please ping me on Twitter or in Sia's discord channel, where I'm simply Murat. Happy days!