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2/17/2009
05:50 PM
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Hybrid Storage Service Targets Cloud Doubters

Don't quite trust online storage providers with your company's files? A new service wants to lure the doubtful with a hybrid model that combines local and cloud-based storage. Startup Egnyte links your premises file server to an online service for belt-and-suspenders storage and backups.

Don't quite trust online storage providers with your company's files? A new service wants to lure the doubtful with a hybrid model that combines local and cloud-based storage. Startup Egnyte links your premises file server to an online service for belt-and-suspenders storage and backups.Egnyte Local Cloud, which launched today, connects a premises file server to an online backup service. Aimed at small businesses, it lets users access files on a local storage device, or use a Web browser to get files from the online storage service. It positions itself as a backup-plus service because it includes very basic collaboration and file-sharing capabilities.

Customers purchase their own storage hardware, such as Maxtor, Western Digital, or Toshiba devices. They then install the Egnyte Local Cloud software onto the storage device. The software copies data up to the cloud, and synchronizes changes made to files on the local device. Access to the local file device appears as a drive on users' computers.

This belt-and-suspenders approach means users can still access files at the office, even if the Internet connection is down and users don't have access to the cloud service. It also makes it easier to work with very large files -- instead of waiting for that big presentation to trickle down from the sky, you can just pull it from the local drive.

The service creates a dedicated Web site for each customer. Customers can create private and public folders. Employees working remotely can access private files via a Web browser. It also lets employees share files from the public folder with business partners, either by e-mailing them as attachments or sending a direct link to the file in an e-mail. Administrators set read, write, and delete permissions for folders for each user account.

Co-founder Vineet Jain says some beta customers use the service as an ad hoc content delivery network. That is, they'll post a link to a publicly available file on their Web site, blog, or wiki that lets anyone download the file.

As for backup capabilities, the software can back up multiple computers continuously or in a given window. Users can restore individual files or entire folders. As mentioned, changes to files on the local storage device are copied up to the cloud service automatically.

The service costs $15 per seat per month, with unlimited online storage.

Egnyte isn't the only startup with a hybrid model. CTERA takes a similar approach, but is offering its services through ISPs and OEMs.

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