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Fortress Vault on Google Cloud: Bringing private data to NFTs

Over the past two years, the general population has become more acquainted with cryptocurrencies and the first iterations of NFTs, which were among the earliest use cases for blockchain technology. This public awareness and participation has led to a growing interest in, and demand for, Web3 technology at the enterprise level. 

But building trust in a new wave of technology, especially in large organizations, doesn’t happen overnight. That is why it’s critical for Web3 technologists to bring the broader benefits, use cases, and core capabilities of blockchain to the forefront of the conversation. If businesses don’t understand how this new technology can help them, how can they prioritize it among competing tech plans and resources? And without baseline protocols that account for privacy, confidential data, and IP, how can they future-proof a business? 

Answering these questions and delivering trustworthy infrastructure is exactly why Scott Purcell and I founded Fortress Blockchain Technologies — to bring about the next wave of Web3  utility. The company’s goal is to provide infrastructure that eliminates barriers to Web3 adoption with RESTful APIs and widgetized services that enable businesses to quickly launch and scale their Web3 initiatives. 

Our tools include embeddable wallets for NFTs and fungible rewards tokens; NFT minting engines; and core financial services . These include payments, compliance, and crypto liquidity via our wholly-owned financial institution, Fortress Trust. Being overseen by a chartered, regulated entity ensures privacy, compliance and business continuity.

Fortress chose Google Cloud to help usher in this new-wave technology because no other cloud provider is better suited to helping regulated industries get up to scale on our Web3 infrastructure and blockchain technology. I’ll get into more specifics below, but at the highest level: IPFS (the current standard distributed storage) is going to face major resistance when it comes to industries that are heavily regulated or deal in ownership rights. By leveraging Google Cloud, which has critical certifications such as HIPPA, Department of Defense, ISO, and Motion Picture, we’re striking the appropriate balance between decentralization and centralization, using the best of both technologies. 

The Fortress Vault on Google Cloud is a huge and necessary step forward as the first ever NFT-database solution to protect intellectual property, confidential documents, and other electronic records. It represents the first technology that marries privately stored content with the accessibility, privacy, portability, and provenance that blockchain provides. 

Understanding Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)

An NFT is not an expensive jpeg. From a technical point of view, an NFT is a unique key stored in a distributed and trustless ledger we call a blockchain. This blockchain token is uniquely identifiable from any other token and acts as a digital key to authenticate ownership and unlock data held in a database. 

While different blockchains have adopted different standards, Ethereum standards are a good proxy to represent overall concepts. Going back to the primitives, if you read the EIP 721 proposal, metadata is explicitly optional. While today’s NFT hype has indeed leveraged that technology to monetize and distribute digital art, the potential of blockchain is in the ability to digitally represent ownership of a wide variety of different asset classes on a decentralized ledger. 

Unique, non-fungible tokens are not a new concept. We use them every day in technical systems for things like authentication, database keys, idempotency, and much more. Now, thanks to blockchain technology, you can take those out of their walled gardens and into an open platform that can lead to transformational utility and applications. 

Take real estate, for example. Instead of a paper-based title documenting you as the owner of your home, imagine that the title is tokenized with an NFT on a blockchain. Any platform could cryptographically verify the authenticity of that form of title along with its provenance in real time and confirm that you’re the rightful owner of that property. 

But, perhaps you don’t want the title of your property visible to others, nor the associated permits, tax documents, architectural drawings, contractor lists, and other documents. Maybe you just want banks, insurance companies, and others to be able to confirm that you are indeed the owner without revealing the details of those records. The NFT metadata records immutable public-facing provenance, while the underlying data remains private and protected using Fortress Vault on Google Cloud. 

Apply that same utility to other sensitive information such as medical records, intellectual property, estate documents, corporate contracts, and other confidential information and it’s easy to see how enterprises are just now exploring how to hold traditional assets as NFTs.

Fortress Vault: Intellectual Property, Confidential Documents, and Other Electronic Records

What NFTs and Web3 have been lacking is the ability to make the tokenized data accessible exclusively by the owner — and only the owner.  NFTs are a digital key to unlock everything ranging from music and event tickets, to real estate deeds and healthcare records, to estate documents, and to everything in the world that’s digital.

This is why we created the Fortress Vault.  When building it, we had to make a fundamental decision: Either go with a distributed and permissionless storage protocol like IPFS, filecoin, or other blockchain-based database offerings, or work with an industry-leading cloud platform that understands data integrity and is establishing itself as the leader in the space. 

Ultimately, we chose Google Cloud for its industry-leading object storage, professional management, fault tolerance, and myriad of certifications for architecture and data integrity.

Some of the challenges faced when vaulting a vast variety and quantity of digital content at scale include:

Balancing data availability versus cost of storage

Data redundancy

Long term archival needs

Business continuity

Flexibility to meet current and future needs of the rapidly evolving Web3 industry. 

Google Cloud is the clear leader across all of these pain points. The object lifecycle management of Google Cloud Storage enables efficient  transition between storage classes when either the data matures to a certain point or it’s updated with newer files. Content in the Fortress Vault can range from on-demand data to long-term uses, such as estate planning documents that won’t be accessed for 30 years. 

When storing NFT data, robust disaster recovery is table stakes. We quickly gravitated to the automatic redundancy options and multi-region storage buckets that let us customize where we store our data without massive devops and management overhead. By leveraging Google Cloud, we can offer industry leading retention, redundancy, and integrity for our customers’ NFT content.

Working with a leader in data storage was key to making this a reality. Additionally, Google Cloud shares our vision of bringing every industry forward into the world of Web3. We are both focused on building the critical infrastructure that allows everyone from Web3 native companies to Fortune 500 brands navigate the strategic shift to blockchain technology.

Why Web3 Matters

“Web3” is shorthand  for the “third wave” of the internet and the technological innovation that brought us here. 

Web 1 — the earliest internet — democratized reading and access to information, opening the doors to  mass communication.  Web 2 expanded on that with the ability to read and “write.” It democratized publishing by letting people directly engage in producing information through blogs, social media, gaming, and contributions to collective knowledge. 

Web 3 expands our technological capabilities even more with the ability to read, write, and “own.”  With blockchain, we can now establish clear provenance with visibility into the  origination of ownership of any tokenized asset, and we can see the chain of ownership. We can rely on this next-generation technology to track, authenticate, protect, and keep a ledger of our assets. 

With the Fortress Vault on Google Cloud, we have the capability to ensure the integrity of non-public data while making it accessible via NFTs. This is a game changer for Web3 adoption, particularly  in industries like music, event ticketing, gaming, finance, transportation, real estate, and healthcare. Every industry can benefit from the ability to tokenize assets on blockchain technology without leaving the trusted safety of Google Cloud data storage. 

The market for NFTs is everyone. And the Fortress Vault on Google Cloud is the technology evolution that makes it possible for Web3 innovators to confidently build, launch, and scale their initiatives across every industry imaginable.

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