At a NEO meetup held in St Petersburg, Russia on November 30th, the NEO St Petersburg Competence Center (NSPCC) was officially revealed along with details of a forthcoming distributed file storage system. The NSPCC is a research and development entity that has been formed to support the NEO core and wider ecosystem. It has gathered support from the Russian Association of Cryptoindustry and Blockchain (RACIB).
The formation of the NSPCC was largely driven by City of Zion and Neon Exchange co-founder, Fabian Wahle (also known as “fabwa” within the NEO community), along with engineers Sergei Liubich and Anatoly Bogatyrev, and Maksim Vinter, who is the head of RACIB North-West.
As a flagship initiative, NSPCC is developing a distributed file storage system, which has long been planned as a cornerstone element of the NEO platform. The team has acquired a wealth of engineering talent, attracting former employees of companies such as Dell, Samsung, WhatsApp and Yandex.
A number of concepts were screened by Wahle and Luibich before settling on the proposal put forth by Bogatyrev, who has a PhD in Reliability of Cluster Computer Systems, a M.Sc. in Computer Networks & Telecommunications and was a senior software engineer in data storage infrastructure at Dell-EMC.
As a platform, the system aims to allow users to utilize distributed storage for dApps in both a public and private capacity. The architecture will maintain properties such as anonymity and security, independent from the data itself, and allow compatibility with popular infrastructure such as Amazon S3 or Dropbox. These capabilities will be critical for attracting enterprise level applications, with the research plan stating “the niche of storages that have a convenient API for DApp and the ability to organize isolated areas with control over data exchange in both public- and other private data storage areas is practically empty.”
The distributed storage system features a unique method of data audit based on homomorphic hashing, which places a minimum load on the network and computing power for verifying and verified parties. Its architecture is comprised of an inner ring and outer ring, where inner ring nodes periodically distribute a network map to all outer nodes, so that stored objects can be located and retrieved P2P without calling central nodes.
Storage will be purchased using the CGAS NEP-5 token, whilst the possibility of utilizing private payment channels via Trinity Protocol or fiat payments through the NEX extension are also noted as future possibilities.
NEO aims to integrate a distributed file protocol natively into its ecosystem, which will be called NeoFS. NSPCC’s file distribution protocol is the first candidate to be considered for the NeoFS title. A promotional video for NeoFS can be seen below.
NSPCC and Education
In addition to the development of the distributed storage system, the NSPCC will also be driving NEO ecosystem growth in Russia and acting as an incubator for Russian blockchain projects. Wahle, who has been working on establishing the NSPCC for over a year, told NEO News Today that a lot of “sweat and tears” had gone into the planning, preparation and establishment of the relationships that form the entity’s foundations.
As part of the NSPCC’s wider mission, collaborations have been established with multiple universities and innovation centres within St Petersburg. Both the Saint-Petersburg State University of Economics Department of Programming Technology and the ITMO University Department of Computer Science have agreed to collaborate with the NSPCC to provide scientific consultancy in areas such as information security, reliability and queueing theory. The universities will also act as a source of developers for the NSPCC, whilst the Department of Computer Science ITMO will allow the NSPCC to create a specialized Master’s program.
Situated close by the ITMO University, the St Petersburg Technopark has committed to providing the NSPCC resources for conducting seminars, conferences and hackathons. The Technopark is home to multiple innovation centres, including the Cluster Development Centre, the SafeNet Cyber-Security Centre, the Prototype Development Centre and the Ingria Business Incubator.
NSPCC and RACIB
The NSPCC will be further aided by the support of the RACIB, a relationship that is unique to NEO. The RACIB was formed to help establish the integration of blockchain into the Russian economy, assisting with the creation of legal frameworks, development and implementation, and representing the interest of market participants.
In addition, the RACIB seeks to help Russia benefit from the economic and social aspects of blockchain technology, aiming to create new jobs for the younger generation and become a global leader in blockchain innovation.
These goals aligned well with the initiatives of the NSPCC, which along with NEO’s emphasis on compliance made the two organizations a good fit. Liubich noted, “One property of NEO that always sparked interest is the fact that NEO is compliant and not pursuing an anarchistic approach. For example, trusted parties hosting nodes.”
Vinter also added that “NEO was more attractive [to the RACIB] because of its PoS-like approach (not mining) and Chinese roots. China is the number one partner now for Russia.”
The relationship between the RACIB and the NSPCC came through Vinter’s connection with the president of the RACIB, Yuri Pripachkin. The initiative was then discussed by the RACIB at the Administration of the President of Russian Federation on December 12th, 2017, and three months later Pripachkin contacted Wahle to indicate they were “ready to provide all round support, including the involvement of the NEO Competence Center’s representatives in discussions of legislative initiatives and the subsequent formation of a legislative based for cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies in the Russian Federation.”
On the significance of the RACIB support, Vinter commented, “Essentially it’s an organization looking into crypto and its application in many sectors for the government. The potential for NEO is therefore quite big, as whenever they look for suitable solutions, NEO will be considered as a candidate.”
NSPCC and NEO Global Development
The NSPCC has the full support of NEO Global Development (NGD), who provides funding to help launch the project in its initial stages
Johnson Zhao, NGD general manager told NEO News Today, “We are very excited about the promising developments by NSPCC and look forward to expand our relationship with the Russian ecosystem.”
Moving forward, the NSPCC has already begun working on the design of the basic project architecture and experiments for its distributed storage system, along with networking protocols, and the implementation of the algorithm for objects placement and retrieval within the network.
Q1 of 2019 will see the NSPCC focus on platform development, such as the implementation of methods to work with the storage of physical blobs, metadata storage, and data audit and validations methods.
In Q2 of 2019, the team will move into feature development, including the implementation of data replication, smart contract and payment methods for data storage, and API design, which will culminate in a beta release in Q3.
More information on the NSPCC can be found at nspcc.ru
A one pager on the forthcoming distributed file system can be found below.