What comes after the cloud? How about the fog?

February 11, 2013

(Credit: Rick Hyman/stock image)

Startup Symform thinks it can provide better disaster resilience than even data centers hundreds of miles apart. And, says Bassam Tabbara, Symform cofounder and Chief Technical Officer, it can do that in a way that’s extremely cheap — and in some cases free — to its customers, Tekla Perry writes on IEEE Spectrum.

Tabbara describes Symform’s approach as a “decentralized, distributed, virtual, and crowd-sourced” cloud. .

Here’s how it works. Most of Symform’s customers act as hosts as well as customers, that is, they allocate some amount of their on-site storage for use by Symform.

Pricing depends on just how much storage they make available; if they allow twice as much data to be stored as they are uploading into the Symform fog, then their fog storage is free. (Otherwise, pricing is 15 cents per gigabyte per month.) This approach is similar to the SETI@home effort in which volunteers donate idle computer cycles to analyze radio data as part of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence; Symform asks customers to provide idle storage.

When a Symform customer uploads a file to the fog, Symform’s software replicates it for redundancy, shreds it into tiny pieces, encrypts each piece, and then distributes it to other Symform customers around the continent or multiple continents….