symform_logo_2010.jpgHeads up, SMBs. Symform's new Cooperative Storage Cloud utilizes a “share and share alike” model in order to provide cheap and offsite storage to MSPs and their customers. 

The Reinvention of Data Storage

A little over a year ago, Symform released something called the Cooperative Storage Cloud, which enabled businesses to trade cheap local disk space for not-so-cheap cloud storage.  

The Reinvention of the Reinvention of Data Storage

Unfortunately for SMBs, bandwidth availability constraints have been a participation road block. This month's release of the Symform Storage Exchange aims to correct that problem:

Starting immediately, Symform is enabling its reseller Partners to sell their excess local storage to those customers who are unable to contribute. Partners, in effect, become “micro data centers” that are distributed around the world. The storage trading isn’t done directly; instead one side is selling excess storage to the Symform cloud while the other is purchasing it as needed.

What's essentially happening here is participants are allowing free space on their local storage to be used by a bunch of strangers. As David A. Chapa of Enterprise Strategy Group put it, it's like a timeshare of data protection. 

Here's how it works: The Symform Cloud Control itself is hosted with Amazon Web Services. The platform takes each 64MB block of data, deduplicates it, slices it into 64 pieces, makes redundant copies of 32 of those bits for a total of 96 nuggets per data block, and then spreads them to machines running the Symform client. A 256-bit encryption means no one on the storage side can make use of your data.

"Our reseller Partners and their SMB customers are the cloud so this is a natural and exciting next step in our evolution," said Kevin Brown, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Symform. "MSPs can now monetize their IT infrastructure in a global marketplace like never before. They save money for their customers, facilitate a global, distributed storage system, and earn additional profits. Talk about making an MSP smile."

What Concerns You?

"I am beginning to like the concept, but not sure it is ready for midmarket or enterprise companies," noted Chapa, considering the 38 percent of midmarket companies that reported managing 11-100TB of data in an Enterprise Strategy Group research report. 

For Chapa, the concerns lie in seeding, data recovery and compliance. "These are all fairly common, but worth a discussion nonetheless," he said. "I can see how a single file recovery would work just great–but how will it work for a large volume recover or a good sized database? Even for a small to medium sized business, this can be quite sizable. How long will it take? Reliance on other nodes out of your control for recovery is a fairly bold position to take–I’m not sure I’m prepared for that just yet without some stringent SLAs."

What about you? Do you have similar concerns? Let us know in the comments below.