Cloud Storage – we all use it. Be it for personal use, company use, or a mix of both. And there are a plethora of different service providers in this area: Dropbox, SkyDrive, iCloud, Box, Copy, Google Drive, SugarSync, JustCloud, the list goes on & on. And if you’re anything like me, you probably use a range of these services.
It all started with two MIT students – Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi – who spotted a recurring problem: how to access computer files from multiple locations. What they built was a cloud storage service where individual account holders can upload files to their personal storage space, and share the same data with colleagues who are account holders on the same platform. So in 2007, Dropbox was born.
This simple idea created one of the giants of the cloud storage business. Just to give a snapshot of a sector of this global market: according to Dropbox themselves, more than 1 million files are saved to Dropbox every 3 mins and 500 million are saved daily.
The main reasons why cloud storage is ideal for the mobile age (and tech is going to become even more mobile with the rise of wearable IT) are that it enables file access and sharing from almost anywhere, anytime.
But just like any great solution, if it’s successful in practice it’ll generate a raft of new problems in its operation and adapatation, the most salient of which for the cloud industry are centred on security.
To assuage these anxieties people (myself included) are using mixed cloud storage solutions which includes private NAS storage as well as public cloud accounts.
The advantage of Network Attached Storage (NAS) is that it’s part of the user’s home network giving him peace of mind about just how secure the data stored on it is. But the flip side of this means the responsibility for securing the data and the redundancy configuration lies with the user.
The personal NAS solution would include sensitive business or personal data. And just like storage on the public cloud the data here can be accessed from any device from just about any location.
The advent of private NAS platforms for business and personal use combined with a plethora of public cloud platforms mean that compatibility is also becoming problematic for cloud users.
And because we all use 2GB of free storage here, 10GB there, 5GB from another, this is made even more complex with individual users having their data fragmented on accounts across different cloud platforms. Or if you are collaborating with others, colleagues using different platforms. And I personally find this a real headache.
This is where another group of students have seen a gap in the market, and this time they are 2 Irish guys from NUIG – Cian Brassil & Scott Kennedy. Last year these guys formed a new Irish start-up called CloudDock, and have identified an opportunity to deal with the aforementioned complexity. I spoke with Scott (Co-Founder & CMO) back in October about the new company, and CloudDock offers an app that provides compatibility and services like file sharing between the different cloud solutions.
CloudDock’s offering is a feature of the second generation cloud companies: Value-Add Services. The basic Cloud Storage offering is pretty simple and it can easily be replicated by the competition. To survive in the market start-ups need an edge to distinguish their product. And the opportunities to add value to cloud services are proliferating. CloudDock is certainly on the right road.
Cisco predicts that between 2011 and 2016 global data traffic will increase 18 fold reaching rates of 10.8 exabytes per month.
As a result filing systems will become difficult to navigate without additional sophisticated search functionality.
According to Alex Gorbansky writing in Venturebeat this will present cloud entrepreneurs with new opportunities for sharp high usability features that will make their spin-out shine in the market place.
Up until recently cloud storage was a handy tool for students and professionals who split working hours between office and home, or for field workers who needed to pull-down data for onsite presentations. But as this sector develops with mobile technology it will attract the smart money that thinks long term.