Symform Launches Cooperative Storage Exchange Platform

The company's data storage infrastructure boasts a 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).

Cloud computing solution provider Symform announced the release of Cooperative Storage Cloud, which works on the principle that each local computer contributes local storage in exchange for cloud-based storage.

The exchange platform, aimed at small to midsize businesses and IT service providers, is available via Symform's reseller partners, which 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. The company said this approach will allow SMBs and their MSPs (managed service providers) with bandwidth or other constraints to participate in the Cooperative Storage Cloud while allowing those customers who have excess capacity to monetize their infrastructure.

"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."

The heart of Symform's software is a proprietary technology called RAID-96. Before data leaves to be distributed into the Cooperative Storage Cloud, files are divided into 64MB blocks. If the file is 64MB or less, then it fits into one block. If the file is not a multiple of 64MB, its last block would be less than 64MB. The block is encrypted using the 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). The encryption algorithm internally pads up the block that is not a multiple of 256 bits (32 bytes) up to the next multiple of 256. Then, each encrypted block is divided (shredded) into data fragments. Here there are two cases-blocks less than 256K and blocks larger than 256K.

A very small file (e.g., less than 4K) may be completely inside a single data fragment, and therefore in theory its contents are protected by encryption only and not by dispersal across nodes, according to Brown. For blocks less than 256K, data fragments are generated in 4K chunks. If the block is less than a multiple of 4K, it will be padded with zeros to make it a 4K multiple. After padding, a 4K block will generate one data fragment. An 8K block will generate two data fragments and so on. A 256K block will generate 64 data fragments.

"Symform turned the backup model upside down and created a game-changer for the industry," said Marc Ross, CTO for business technology consultancy firm IT Foresight. "This creates an important new offering and revenue opportunity for MSPs with sufficient IT infrastructure. A key principle for IT Foresight has always been to find ways to bring enterprise-class approaches and architectures to the SMB space via an affordable, secure and scalable solution or service mix. For the backup and recovery space, Symform makes this possible."