Interview with Youan of Crust Network
Crust Network is providing decentralized cloud storage for the whole Polkadot ecosystem. Utilizing blockchain technology, your data can be now stored securely and in a decentralized fashion. For today's interview, we talked with Youan who is a brand manager at Crust Network.
What are the characteristics of decentralized storage? Is decentralized storage really necessary for Web 3.0?
Distributed, privacy-focused, efficient, non-monopoly.
We are in a digital age. If the off-chain data of a blockchain application is stored in a centralized service provider, then it is not a completely decentralized application.
There are two different applications of Crust Network — Crust Cloud and dApp file storage. Can you tell us more about the Crust Cloud, is it comparable to Google Drive or Dropbox? What feature list do you provide?
There are much more than two applications that can be built on top of Crust Network. And we have summarized four typical application categories. WebSite/dApp hosting, general off-chain/NFT file storage, accelerated P2P content delivery network, and cloud storage.
We spent most of our development resources on the protocol design and implementation; we develop applications mostly for capabilities demonstration and market education purposes. Crust Cloud and Github Crust/IPFS Pin Action are two examples. In addition, we have released the Crust Grants Program to encourage and incentivize developers to build more useful applications on top of Crust. Here is a sample list of those applications. You can go to our granted list to find more projects, most of those applications are now being built by the development community.
- On DApp hosting: We have developed Crust Pin Action Service and it has been leveraged by top DApps like Uniswap and PolkadotApps. More decentralized pin service applications are being built such as IceTray (enhanced IPFS cluster with data pinned on Crust) and Decco Pin Service.
- On NFT integrations: We are providing necessary support for NFT projects like BCA and UniArts, to store NFT files on Crust/IPFS.
- On Content Delivery: SocBay.io (initially named CrustLive) is like a decentralized version of YouTube.
- On Cloud Storage: IPFS/Crust version of CowTransfer. CowTransfer is a file transfer and cloud storage application that has more than 40 million users, mostly in Asia.
In general, if you build Cloud Storage applications such as Crust Cloud on top of Crust, resource-wise you will benefit from the underlying network
- it’s cheaper — currently, it’s <$0.02/GB for one month on Crust Maxwell (even much cheaper with larger storage)
- faster — P2P accelerated by Crust nodes
- and safer — no single cloud enterprise can inspect and see your data.
Why do we need dApp file storage? How easy is it to integrate Crust into my existing dApp?
Hosting DApps on Crust and IPFS will give several benefits:
- High availability — Crust will maintain 100+ IPFS replicas (copies) of DApp frontend, there’s no single point of failure.
- Low cost — you don’t have to maintain any servers. DApps usually implement their core business using smart contracts — the smart contracts are on-chain and they don’t need a server to work. Similarly, for the frontend, you don’t to host it anywhere if you use IPFS.
- Safe — Based on the decentralized DApp hosting solution, it is easy to prevent attacks from the HTTP world like DNS hijacking and DDoS. For example, with ENS + IPFS solution backed by Crust, if users run a browser or plugin that supports both, DNS hijacking will be highly unlikely. In general for DApps, smart contracts provide asset safety, and decentralized DApp hosting provides application safety.
It’s quite easy to integrate Crust into the existing DApp/Website deployment flow. Take Uniswap as an example (https://github.com/Uniswap/uniswap-interface/pull/1342/files). It’s actually just a few lines of code.
Do you support only EVM (Solidity) based dApps or also apps written in the Substrate native smart contract language — Ink!?
As of right now — no, we don’t support customized smart contracts, EVM, or Ink!. The most important interface of Crust is to provide storage order functions so that users can use the functions to manage their files. In the long run, we have a plan to enable our users to be able to create contracts to manage their own data as digital assets.
Do you have any integrations with other Polkadot ecosystem projects? Many smart contract platforms (Moonbeam, Edgeware, Plasm, or Phala) and other projects (like Subsocial) would certainly utilize your decentralized storage service.
Sure, we have reached storage cooperation intentions with many projects inside and outside the Polkadot ecosystem, including Moonbeam, Litentry, Reef, Plasm, Darwinia, Apron, etc. After the Polkadot parachains launch, they will use Crust for off-chain storage. You can find all the cooperative announcement articles on our Medium page.
You decided to use two algorithms to run the network — GPoS (Guaranteed Proof of Stake) consensus model and also MPoW (Meaningful Proof of Work). Can you explain your motivation for using them?
Compared with traditional PoS, GPoS has added the role of guarantor. We have continued Polkadot’s DPoS economic model. Token holders can obtain income by helping the node guarantee. We hope that token holders, nodes, and users can be closely combined to make tokens a virtuous circle.
As for MPoW, compared to the traditional PoW, all the work performed by the Crust node is meaningful. We use TEE hardware to prove the workload of the node. Therefore, the node does not need to perform meaningless calculations.
How do the workload reports work?
We use a technology named TEE. Similar to the safe area on the iPhone, TEE is a set of software and hardware functions that together provide a safe and isolated execution environment for applications. All Crust nodes need to have a CPU that supports the TEE function. TEE will supervise and check the workload of the nodes and report the workload to the chain.
I noticed that quite a few projects in the Polkadot space are leveraging TEE technology (most notably you and Phala Network). What’s so appealing about the TEE and why it makes such a good fit for a blockchain? Why didn’t we see TEE-based applications before Polkadot came into space?
TEE is a set of software and hardware functions that together provide a secure, isolated execution environment for applications. You can think of TEE as a black box. The encrypted data and applications enter the black box to process the data, and only the encrypted result is retained. TEE can help ensure that data is not copied, stolen, or misused so that individuals can use their data without giving up control.
TEE technology has been used by many mainstream manufacturers and is a relatively mature technology. It fits very well with the concept of blockchain decentralization and democracy. As far as I know, Phala Network and Oasis Network are also using this technology.
How would you compare yourself to other popular decentralized storage solutions like Filecoin or Siacoin? Do you have any advantage over them?
Crust and Filecoin are also node incentive layers based on the IPFS network. This is different from most other storage applications.
The two biggest advantages of Crust are the GPoS and MPoW. The design of GPoS just mentioned does not bound the nodes deeply, which is more conducive to the distribution of our nodes around the world and promotes a virtuous circle of tokens. MPoW uses TEE technology so that nodes do not need to do redundant calculations. Most importantly, this will greatly shorten the file packaging time, which is very important for an application.
In addition, Crust is in the Polkadot ecosystem. We chose it because of its huge heterogeneous sharding nature. The interaction of information between projects will allow Crust to derive more imaginative functions.
How can someone become a part of Crust Network and provide its storage to it? What incentive do you have for people that want to add their storage to the network?
Basically, as long as you have a computer with a TEE function and a storage hard disk, you can be a Crust node. This requirement is very simple.
You can find the relevant mining guide on the WIKI of our official website.
As for how to attract, the current generous mining rewards are the best attraction, and we don’t even need to take the initiative to attract miners. But the current problem is that our nodes are not distributed enough, most of them are concentrated in China.
How much data are you actually able to store at the moment? Can you scale up to exabytes? 🙂
You can find relevant information on Storage Explorer on our official website. At present, the total storage capacity of the entire network is 650PB, which is when we have not vigorously promoted mining profit. Of course, we hope that the storage capacity will be larger and larger, but at the same time, we will develop the application side in a balanced way to promote the real use of Crust storage in the market.
Why did you choose to build on the Polkadot/Substrate? Did you like the development experience?
Our team considered Ethereum at the beginning of the project, but its problems included high transaction fees, low TPS, and so on. These are very unfriendly to an application chain that requires frequent transactions. We have also tried the Tendermint of Cosmos, but its degree of customization of the chain cannot meet our needs.
The Substrate framework can meet our needs very well, and its on-chain governance and fork-free upgrades can also help the application to develop in a long-term and stable manner.
Are you heading to obtain a Kusama parachain slot in the upcoming auctions? Have you already finished integration with Rococo and made your technology ready?
Sure, we are the first wave parachain on Rococo(ParaId: 7777), and we always update our code as soon as Rococo or Cumulus are updated.
Are you going to create a crowdloan so your supporters can help you with winning the slot? How are you going to incentivize users to support Crust Network?
Of course, we will. At present, we have announced the reward rules for the Kusama slot auction. You can find this article on our medium called Kusama Parachain Auction Plan.
During the crowdloan campaign period, we will give supporters a reward of 1 KSM:0.07 CRU per week, for a total of 10,000 CRU. If the auction is successful, a total of 20,000–30000 CRUs will be given to all supporters. All rewards will be issued as soon as the crowdloan campaign period ends.
I suppose you will also go for a parachain slot on Polkadot when it’s possible. 🙂 Will you stick with the same CRU token for both Kusama and Polkadot or are you planning to introduce a dual-token model like a lot of networks do?
Whether it is Kusama or Polkadot, we will use the native token CRU for rewards. In Crust’s economic model, we reserve 40% of the tokens developed by the community for the maintenance of slots and auctions, which is about 2 million CRUs. At the same time, our tokens have been circulated in the market and can be traded. In the Kusama slot auction rewards, we stipulate that the rewards are issued immediately. I believe our plan is very sincere and competitive.
Wish all the luck in the upcoming auctions and I hope we will see Crust Network running on Kusama soon!
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