Symform's decentralized approach to cloud storage

Service provider makes use of customers' unused disk space to minimize environmental impact, rewrite cloud storage pricing rules.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

Being that cloud storage and backup services were one of the most successful "stories" of 2011, what makes Symform different from the dozens of other companies that are targeting this space? Its decentralized approach to storing customers' data throughout the cloud, ala that grid computing model that you used to read so much about.

Not only is this approach potentially a greener tactic than other cloud storage service providers because it makes use of capacity that already exists within businesses, it has enabled the Seattle-based company to create a pricing model that includes up to 200 gigabytes of storage capacity for free.

Symform uses what it calls its Resilient Storage Architecture to create a pool of storage resources across the Internet. Data being stored across that pool is distributed, encrypted and shredded using RAID-96 technology so that information isn't exposed to a single point of failure.

One of the analysts that follows storage approaches, Paul Burns, president of Neovise, said:

"Symform's disruptive approach to the cloud storage industry has allowed customers to radically reduce their online storage costs to make moving to the cloud practical. By allowing customers to connect underutilized local storage to a decentralized network of shared storage, the company avoids the high cost of maintaining data centers and is able to offer as much as 200 gigabytes for free."

Actually, Symform "only" gives away 100 gigabytes of storage for free when you sign up, but that already is far more than many other organizations offer. You can get up to 200 gigabytes by referring other businesses to the company (up to 10 gigabytes of storage for every successful referral).

For businesses that are seeking to create a redundant set of data for backup and disaster recovery purposes, and that have a significant amount of local storage that they aren't using, the service might make senses.

From a green standpoint, the decentralized model certainly insulates Symform from the high electricity costs and energy-efficiency concerns of its main competitors.

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