Take Raspberry Pi, build your own private cloud

Take Raspberry Pi, build your own private cloud

Summary: A start-up is working on a Raspberry Pi-based network attached storage device that can be used to set up a private cloud.


You can build all kinds of things from Raspberry Pi single board computers (SBC): smartglasses, tablets, and even supercomputers. So why not an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud?

Sherlybox: A private Raspberry Pi-powered cloud in a box.

Why not, indeed. The startup Sher.ly is building a network-attached storage (NAS) device, the Sherlybox, that comes with its own peer-to-peer (P2P) virtual private network (VPN) and file server. With it, the company claims you can build your own private cloud.

The Sherlybox is still a work in progress. Its creators are relying on Kickstarter to get the Sherylbox off the ground.

The Sherylbox is built around the Raspberry Pi Model B computer. This SBC comes with 512 MB of RAM, two USB 2.0 ports, 802.11n Wi-FI, and a 100mb Ethernet port. Instead of just the naked board, the Sherylbox comes with a case, a 4GB eMMC flash drive, and an optional 1 TB hard-drive. The company claims that with external USB drives, it can support up to 127 USB drives.

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The Sherlybox's real secret sauce isn't the hardware. It's the software. By using its P2P VPN, you can create your own private, invitation-only cloud. This idea is similar to ownCloud, which uses open-source software to turn your existing PCs and servers into a private cloud.

Sherylbox's approach differs in several ways. First, instead of a standard file sharing protocol, such as ftp or Common Internet File System/Server Message Block (CIFS/SMB), it uses Sher.ly's proprietary file-sharing protocol. The company claims that this works 20 times faster than CIFS/SMB. In addition, files are kept encrypted on the device, and there is no actual file transfer, ala Dropbox, when files are used. The files are only available on the server. In addition, the device supports video streaming via XBMC.

This NAS software runs on Linux. Specifically, it supports Raspbmc, Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center (OpenELEC), and Raspbian. The VPN and file-sharing software is proprietary at this time.

The Sherlybox has a July 4 funding goal of $69,000. As of June 8, the project had reached $56,000.

For a $29 pledge you get a lifetime license for the underlying Sher.ly app. This can run on Linux, Mac, or Windows desktops and enables Sherlybox file-sharing. The Sherlybox starts at $149, with the lifetime Sher.ly app license included. For a $199 pledge you get an 1TB hard-drive. If funded, and it appears almost certain it will be, the first Sherlyboxes will ship in January 2015.

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Topics: Cloud, Hardware, Linux, Networking

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  • WD's own cloud is available for less

    "The Sherlybox starts at $149, with the lifetime Sher.ly app license included."

    I've seen some units on Amazon selling for just over $100.
  • bad performance

    I've already done this. A Raspberry Pi hosting rtorrent and a large (3TB) USB drive.

    It works... but the usb drive performance through the pi is very slow. Also, the pi's ethernet performance is slow too, as the ethernet internally is routed via the USB bus.

    So it works, but no-one would want to base a file server or cloud solution off a pi.
    • You forget the actual bandwidth is limited by the ISP.

      I know of very few homes that can have 100MBit connections.

      Thus the 100 MB network limit (and the USB limits) are really not an issue. The only time you would meet these limitations would from within the local network.

      This will not, and was never intended, to support hundreds of clients.

      It is intended to support ONE client. Perhaps two or three, at most.

      And it doesn't remove the responsibility of the admin to make backups.
      • Backups required.

        That was my initial reaction. A "cloud" on your premises is an oxymoron.

        So what do you do? Set up your own local and private "cloud", and then back that whole thing up to the real cloud.

        I guess I don't quite get it.
        • Access from anywhere is the point.

          Yes, you have access on your own local network. But you also have access from elsewhere BECAUSE it's a CLOUD device and not JUST a NAS.

          And it's PRIVATE, meaning you don't have to worry about who else is accessing your data. You don't have to worry about a major outage and spending days on the phone with Yahoo or whoever, being told, "We're working on it."

          No monthly charge and you can physically bring it with you if you want to -- so you can use it where there is no Internet service such as a vacation cabin or boat.
          • Still not convinced

            Is it going to be more secure than a large commercial cloud? Anything connected to the web is potentially vulnerable.

            Are you going to have fail safe redundancy?

            Are you going to have standby emergency power, just like the "big boys"?

            Taking your little "cloud" on your boat or to your cabin? For others to have access also, you need to be connected all the time. In that case, why not just leave it in one place and access remotely. If you are the sole user and take it with you, the whole point of it being a "cloud" disappears.

            Those "life time" "whatevers" will be worthless if/when the venture goes under.

            And you will still need off-site backup.

            Sounds like a solution looking for a problem to me.
          • 1million%

            Agree with the comment above;-)
        • Economister - answer for you

          It's something more than just backup. the hardware is only a shadow that sync, backup locally. What is different is the written from scratch protocol that is faster than CIFS/SAMBA a few times, TimeLine that brings collaboration aspects and context of sharing, BYOD support with TrueCrypt like support and more. With just one Sherlybox or any NAS that holds Sherlybox software you can backup and sync files within the whole group, even if you have 30 devices. Still you won't pay for each sync like you do within Dropbox or any other Public Cloud.. Soon you will get a brand new Sher.ly app for testing that you will be able to use it, without Sherlybox even.
          Marek Ciesla
    • Sherlybox is the prototype now..

      Lee@, We had to make prototype based on Raspberry PI, but once the production hits, there will be our own solution.
      Marek Ciesla
  • Agreed: Cloud storage is not a DIY option, IMIO

    You know how you constantly hear how commercial cloud services are constantly crashing and taking billions of terabytes of data of hundreds of thousands of clients with them?

    Neither did I.

    Just because something is possible doesn't mean it is either desirable or sensible.

    Lots of possible, desirable, sensible application for the Raspberry Pie module. Cloud just isn't one.
    • Actually....

      Crashing - yes. They do go offline occasionally.

      Loosing data -- yes also. MS has done it once, very early in their history.

      But loosing data is mostly due to incompetence. A simple raid solution with backups would handle that.
  • Sherlybox can be on Rasberri Pi, Banana Pi and own solution

    HI Marek from Sher.ly. I would like to stress out that what is put on Kickstarter is just a prototype, but the final one. We gather money to make own solution. In the mean time we will make alternative to the one on Raspberri Pi with a stretch goals focusing on Banana Pi that provides more CPU and power. Further more we want to see Sherlybox to be easy alternative to the NAS devices that will work with Sher.ly app. So you can either stick to just the app Sher.ly, that is P2P solution with our technology and IP, Sher.ly with Sherlybox that is for Small, Medium Business, with NAS devices or Enterprise where the software is installed on Company servers. For more information please visit www.sher.ly
    Marek Ciesla