Take Raspberry Pi, build your own private cloud

A start-up is working on a Raspberry Pi-based network attached storage device that can be used to set up a private cloud.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

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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