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Glide OS Sees Cloud Computing Surge

The online media sharing and file storage service reports rising interest in cloud storage and apps.

When it launched in late 2005, TransMedia's Glide Effortless was ahead of its time. It offered Web applications and 50MB of free cloud-based storage before users had really been sold on the utility of having their files available on any device.

In 2010, thanks both to thrifty innovation and management and to Google's and Microsoft's evangelism of cloud computing, Glide OS -- as the service is now called -- is living up to its name and taking off.

"The reality is that companies like Google and Microsoft are investing a lot to create awareness of cloud computing," said Donald Leka, CEO of TransMedia, which operates Glide OS. "It's helping us a lot."

The story is a bit different now: Glide OS offers 30GB of free online storage, a testament to falling storage prices. Glide OS is also growing fast. It just passed 1.5 million users, adding over 174,000 in January alone.

Users, says Leka, are finally ready to move their files into the cloud. "We're seeing storage being eaten up," he said. "We're adding new storage units constantly."

TransMedia's capital, however, hasn't been eaten up. Leka says that the company's frugality -- only $5.3 million in development costs since 2006 -- has put it in a strong position, particularly in today's climate of constrained venture funding. Other start-ups have spent five or ten times as much, he says, often for functionality that duplicates only a fraction of what Glide offers.

According to Leka, the company, during its last equity capital round, was raising money at a valuation of $90 million.

The company's latest addition is the integration of a file-viewing component into its GDrive, a name long attached to a rumored online storage offering from Google but never officially used by the company. So now Glide is using the name to refer to its storage offering.

Glide's GDrive file viewer allows users to view files stored in the cloud in a Web browser, without requiring the files to be opened in the application that created them. This is particularly useful when one has to access a file through a computer or mobile device that lacks the appropriate application.

In January, the company took a major step to make its service more useful: It released browser plug-ins for Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Mozilla Firefox, thereby making Glide available through one's browser at any time without requiring a visit to Glide's Web site.

Leka says that Glide is preparing for the future by dumping Adobe Flash, which is used in almost half of the service's applications. "We're really trending away from Flash," said Leka. "By the middle of this year, all of our major apps will be in Ajax."

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