For most people, crypto is synonymous with Bitcoin. Those with some Bitcoin savvy know the technology relies on \u201cproof of work\u201d to validate transactions. Operations on the Bitcoin blockchain use \u201cminers\u201d to perform complex cryptographic \u201cwork,\u201d which, in turn, requires significant CPU and GPU resources.\nHowever, proof of work requires a great deal of energy. This draws criticism from environmentally minded skeptics. In addition to Bitcoin, other blockchains pursue different roles using different validation methods. Increasingly, \u201cproof of space,\u201d which validates operations with participants\u2019 excess storage capacity, provides an approach that may be both greener\u2014and rife with opportunity for organisations to derive revenue from their IT infrastructure.\nProofs of Space and Time\nA slew of news stories have reported on a spike in demand for both hard drives (HDDs) and solid state drives (SSDs), provoked by the cryptocurrency Chia.\nStarted by Bram Cohen, the creator of BitTorrent, Chia Network set out to create a greener alternative to the Bitcoin blockchain, developing proof algorithms that rely on storage capacity rather than electricity consumption. Instead of \u201cproof of work,\u201d the blockchain depends on \u201cproof of space\u201d and \u201cproof of time.\u201d Its requirements are affordable for small companies and even enthusiast consumers wanting to provide storage resources.\n\u201cProof of Space is directly linear in the storage you allocate,\u201d Chia\u2019s COO Gene Hoffman told me. \u201cYour 100 TB is just as likely to win as anyone else\u2019s 100 TB. Now, the total [network space] is likely to scale up so that home farmers may not be able to win once a week or once a month on their own.\u201d\nChia developed a solution to this problem, introducing an official pooling protocol that addresses the centralisation risks while letting smaller farmers pool together and share all the rewards daily.\nProtocol Labs\u2019 Filecoin uses \u201cproof of space and time\u201d for blockchain validation and similarly rewards miners in FIL currency. Unlike Chia\u2019s \u201cfarmers,\u201d Filecoin storage miners make their unused capacity available to the network, creating a vast \u201cdecentralized, efficient, and robust foundation for humanity\u2019s information.\u201d Clients strike \u201cdeals\u201d with storage miners to store data and verify that data\u2019s integrity over time. Factors such as latency, proximity, bandwidth, capacity, lock-up duration, and offered cost will affect miners\u2019 ability to win deals. Given the enormous amount of capacity pledged to Filecoin, an enterprise like a medical center can archive a great deal of data, which frees up its local capacity for other, more critical use.\nUpon receiving the data, a miner will write the file(s) into a sector, \u201cseal\u201d it, and deliver proofs to the blockchain. Uptime failures or malicious activity result in \u201cslashing,\u201d or penalties deducted from miners\u2019 compensation. The more capacity a miner makes available to the network, the higher their chances of winning a block.\nEnterprise-Class Mining: Best Practices\nWhile emerging data center and distributed storage applications need to focus on total cost of ownership in order to scale globally, in the crypto world, it pays to use a combination of high-reliability, enterprise-class SSDs and mass-capacity hard drives. Given the importance of data protection and data durability, it is best to use a hardware RAID or erasure-coded solution featuring drive and even controller redundancy. This type of configuration would maximise uptime and data protection.\nIn general, crypto involves three main scenarios, with the following storage recommendations:\n\nFirst, for the transaction-intensive workloads such as data sealing, SSDs are a good bet that helps achieve application performance.\nSecond, for capacity-intensive workloads, cost-efficient and space-maximising hard drives are the way to go.\nThird, if a particular cryptocurrency penalises lost capacity, choose protected hard drive storage, which should prevent that from happening.\n\nWhen Stored Data Equals Value, Literally \nFilecoin and others showcase how businesses can turn their idle infrastructure into ongoing revenue.\nThis is an emerging set of distributed storage opportunities that will coexist with distributed application development. We now have a working foundation, a universally available data backbone for distributed storage that didn\u2019t exist a decade ago. CIOs can install the resources they\u2019ll need someday, make money from it in the near term, and gracefully exit the market when it\u2019s time to put that storage to work.\nA host of considerations remain, starting with how businesses should balance storage infrastructure robustness, capacity investment, and crypto revenue. They might also reassess the value of their data, given that the data\u2019s physical media can now produce income from both unused (as with Chia) and rented (Filecoin) space.\nIt\u2019s been many years since long-term accumulation of local bulk storage\u2014or HODLing, for those who prefer meme-rooted crypto slang\u2014held such value potential. IT groups may find that blockchains radically transform TCO equations. On the consumption side, expect crypto storage to find a place in enterprise vertical strategies. Filecoin, Chia, and others may soon offer more enticing mass-capacity storage than today\u2019s big, centralised providers.\nHowever it happens, the staying power of blockchain and decentralisation is an inevitable reality. It\u2019s time to make room for it\u2014on our drives, in our day-to-day transactions, and in realms yet to be discovered.\nJason Feist is Seagate Technology\u2019s Vice President of Engineering, Emerging Products and Solutions.