This will be the first in a series of aggregated news and information about the rapidly evolving cloud storage market. Got cloud storage news? Tweet it to @cloudblog!
Microsoft Launches Windows Azure Drive – previously (and suspiciously) code-named “Xdrive,” Microsoft has pushed an NTFS-formatted virtual hard drive service into a wider CTP. According to Windows Azure Storage Architect Brad Calder, users will be able to run applications in the cloud…
Carbonite Reaches Out to Small Business – The consumer online backup tool finally unwraps a long awaited business program, Carbonite Pro, offering backup storage at $0.50 per GB per month. The storage pricing matches the MozyPro offer, but the Boston-based firm has upped the ante by removing per device licensing fees.
Zumodrive and HP Link Up for CloudDrive – Following the Upline debacle, HP has dipped its toe back in the cloud storage water by offering the CloudDrive service on netbooks, powered by tiny Zumodrive. The aforementioned platform has been lauded for their unique approach to desktop integration, and the ease of use in accessing the cloud via native applications, such as iTunes. Expect the other OEMs to quickly follow suit. iPadDrive, anyone?
Box.net Offers Cloud-based Content Management – Along with the exposure of an online document viewer, Box.net now claims an edge over Microsoft Sharepoint.
Today San Francisco-based Dropbox announced reaching the 4 million user mark and the hiring of Adam Gross, formerly of SalesForce, as SVP Sales and Marketing. The user milestone is remarkable considering that the company touted 3 million users in November 2009 and 2 million in September 2009.
The announcement comes despite an overall decline in traffic to Dropbox’s sites in December according to Compete (in November 2009 the company acquired dropbox.com and discontinued the use of getdropbox.com). Interestingly, Compete reports only 2.3 million unique visitors since September; adding 2 million registrants in that time would indicate either 1) errors in Compete’s measurements, so extreme as to be toxic, 2) massive growth coming from iPhone or other peripheral sources, 3) a conversion rate so incredible it has never before been seen on the web.
Dropbox users are given 2 GB of storage for free, 50 GB for $9.95, or 100 GB for $99.95. Both paid tiers, at $0.20 per GB per month, closely mirror the $0.15 per GBM storage cost of Amazon S3, which the company uses as its storage backend. Loading transfer and request costs, margins for paying users are even slimmer. Presumably the company is betting on both paid and free users using far less capacity than their plans allow or gaining economies of scale from Amazon (who drops storage pricing as much as 75% at higher tiers of storage). Storing 2GB for 4 million users equals 8 petabytes, which would cost roughly $600K per month for storage alone. The company previously raised $7.2 million from Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners.
More Dropbox coverage here.
Leading cloud backup providers AllMyData, Carbonite, EMC (DBA Decho and Mozy), Iron Mountain, Officeware (DBA FilesAnywhere.com), Pro Softnet (DBA iBackup and iDrive) are being sued in a patent case filed Wednesday in the Eastern Texas District Court. The plaintiff, Network Backup Corp (NBC) is alleging infringment of US Patent 5,133,065 and seeking compensatory damages. Although little is known about NBC, the report indicates that the company acquired the intellectual property from Personal Computer Peripherals Corp subsequent to the patent’s issuance on July 21, 1992. The claims were drafted and the application was filed on July 27, 1989.
A preliminary review reveals a broad and generic patent regarding network based backup. The brief, 11-page claim identifies issues with prevailing backup systems such as “workstations [with] a only floppy disk drive on which a backup could be made” in the abstract. It was not immediately apparent if the patent had previously been successfully defended.
Reproduced from the Southeast Texas Record here.
Plaintiff Network Backup Corp. (NBC) is a Texas corporation with its principal place of business in Longview.
According to the complaint, U.S. Patent No. 5,133,065 was issued July 21, 1992, for a Backup Computer Program for Networks to Edward L. Cheffetz and Ronald C. Searls. At its issuance, the ‘065 Patent was assigned to Personal Computer Peripherals Corp. and is currently assigned to plaintiff NBC.
Network Backup Corp. is only asserting claims 6-10, the method claims, and not the system claims of the ‘065 Patent in this complaint.
The plaintiff alleges that defendants AllMyData, Best Buy, Carbonite, EMC Corp., Iron Mountain, Netmass, Officeware doing business as FilesAnywhere.com, Pro Softnet and Webroot Software are infringing one or more of the method claims of the ‘065 Patent.
The defendants infringe the method by their paid online backup subscription services.
“Each of the Defendants has committed acts of infringement which have caused damage to NBC (Network Backup Corp.),” the suit states.
The plaintiff is seeking compensatory damages, interest, costs and other relief deemed just and proper.
S. Calvin Capshaw of Capshaw DeRieux LLP in Longview and attorneys from Parker, Bunt & Ainsworth PC in Tyler are representing the plaintiff. Attorneys from Vanek, Vickers & Masini PC and The Law Offices of Eugene M. Cummings PC in Chicago are of counsel.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge T. John Ward.
Case No. 2:09-cv-249-TJW
On Monday, a site at Microsoft was briefly up, pulled down, and changed to a teaser offering of an online backup service for mobile phones. According to Engadget, the service will offer up to 200 MB for transferring contacts, appointments, tasks, photos, videos, music, text messages, and documents for Windows Mobile 6 phones and is “free at this time.” The page now labels the brand as “My Phone,” although the URL is www.getskybox.com, perhaps a tip of the hat to Sequoia backed DropBox (or was that Dropboks?).
The offering appears to be a direct challenge to Apple’s MobileMe service for synchronizing iPhones and iPod Touch devices to Macs and PCs, which offers 20 GB of storage for $99 / year.
Today there is a trend toward higher storage densities on smartphones, an increasingly dominant player in the mobile market (Apple), and vicious competition amongst web storage companies, including Microsoft’s own SkyDrive. Any player hoping to win in this arena will certainly have to make mobile compatibility a key piece of their platform without creating an additional “island” of data. It remains to be seen how Microsoft will offer additional storage, at what cost, and how it integrate across their other web offerings. We’ll be reviewing it here as soon as it becomes publicly available.
Like the tagline from the brilliant Christopher Guest film, there’s a good reason why some talent remains undiscovered. As much excitement and anticipation as there is around GDrive, I remain skeptical. To offer a consumer product in the way that Google does means integrated advertising, which is a scary prospect when talking about one’s personal files.
The TechCrunch crowd doesn’t appear to agree, as at last check the poll asking readers if they will use it came out at 385 yes, 72 no, and 62 who cares. There are some interesting comments, with one reader asking for an update on the original online storage gang and another who (correctly) identifies that unlimited storage to many of these companies means whatever is maintained on the host being backed up.
Its clear that there is massive pent-up demand for storage services, but I think its the right product people are waiting for, not a lightining bolt from Mountain View.
Today HP announced the availability of Upline, yet another storage platform aimed at consumers and small businesses. The launch is the fruit of their recent “blink and you missed it” acquisition of tiny Opelin, the company behind the now EOLed service Titanize.
The slick demo on the Upline site shows little of the actual product, but we know that the client app is written in .NET, effectively leaving us Mac users out in the cold. Not entirely surprising given that HP has long been rumored to be in the business of selling Windows computers.
The feature set is promising. Sharing and publishing features, sorely missing in the Carbonite and Mozy services, are likely to provide a key differentiator beyond the big, trusted company brand advantage.
We’re left wondering if HP’s appetite for SaaS services has been sated. A little success in getting Upline adoption makes them a likely candidate to roll up one or more of the leading players in the space.
Pete Cashmore of Mashable posts today about Scribd, the self-described YouTube for documents, and their initiative to convert paper documents to their proprietary iPaper format for a limited time at no cost to their users. This is in addition to the unlimited storage provided for a given set of document types, including popular Microsoft Office, Open Office, and Adobe types. Scribd is certainly to be lauded for their forward thinking, but questions abound.
Are the original documents returned? Scribd notes that they may refuse to scan a document and publish it at their discretion. What is the criteria and what happens then? How do they determine “full legal rights” to the documents that are sent to them?
More information is here. Seems like a service worth watching.