The Death of the Datacenter – One Cloud to Rule them All

spacemonkeyOK, so we’ve probably got a few years before they really disappear, but the writing is on the wall. We’re seeing a new trend start to emerge in Cloud based storage. The target market is the home Cloud consumer and small to medium business. It’s primarily driven at data protection for the average user, but is heralds the start of data escaping from the data centre centric Cloud and the rise of the Internet as the ultimate Cloud.

Box, Google Drive, SkyDrive, DropBox, Mozy, Amazon Drive, and a host of other Cloud service providers are in a war for your data. We know this because the cost of storage is dropping across the platform while the price of the underlying infrastructure isn’t. We also know this because the big players are suffering massive losses of cash sustaining that war.

Each of these companies wants to lock your data in their data center because they know a few things:

  • It will grow. Massively.
  • The aggressive pricing will cause outlying Cloud storage providers to collapse, causing consolidation, and a massive market share moving to the remaining providers.
  • Once they have you, they can continue to “drop the price” but because your data is now growing so rapidly, you are going to pay more and more on a monthly basis for your storage.

This really in essence is the Cloud business model at its heart when it comes to storage.

I added up the cost of my monthly storage costs both personally and for my business and figured out that I am paying about $55 NZD per month, or $660 NZD per year for around 50GB of storage. About $550 in USD.

“Everything in the Cloud today is housed in datacenters. These are high-cost buildings tightly packed with expensive computer equipment. They need costly fire suppression systems, diesel backup generators, expansive power distribution systems, premium network equipment, biometric access controls, security patrols, and consume vast amounts of electricity and air-conditioning. They require 24/7 staffing and Network Operations Centers. The ongoing daily costs of keeping datacenters running is exorbitant compared to the actual cost of the hard drives that store your data in the Cloud.” – Space Monkey

Enter the first of a new breed of Cloud pioneers, Space Monkey.

Space Monkey is just about to release its first version of Cloud storage. The cost, about $8.50 per month for a terabyte of storage. They assert that because their device removes data from the datacenter, the cost of storing data is massively reduced. In addition, the way that the technology works, means that the speed of data transfer is significantly higher and will increase as Space Monkey proliferates.

If I wanted that much storage based on what I pay today, the cost would be about four times the price, just for the ability to have an online storage center, and forty times the price for backup.

How does it work?

  • You buy a year long upfront subscription for a terabyte of data. 
  • They send you a device which syncs with your local devices through a shared folder. The files are stored on that device.
  • The device has a hard drive of about 2 – 3TB.
  • Data is encrypted, then broken into pieces, and distributed to other devices in the network with redundancy.

This is serious genius.

  • The data is encrypted AND split into pieces, so the chances of getting all the pieces back together again are very low.
  • If the device is stolen, because it is encrypted, its stills secure. Space Monkey sends you another device and it resynchronises once you give it your key.
  • All the work of encryption and file storage is stored off your devices.
  • It allows bandwidth throttling to manage your data caps.
  • You can pin files, so even if you are away from your device, you can still access them locally.
  • Data is shareable.

It is effectively cheaper, faster, more secure, less impacting on the environment, and more redundant than most Cloud storage options.

Space Monkey aren’t the only ones out there doing this, but from what I’ve seen, they are the most sophisticated and mature. They go live in the next couple of months, so get in now, because places for that first push are limited through Kickstarter.

Bittorrent have release a similar software-based free service in beta in the last few days. This allows you to create an encrypted folder on your devices. Any device with the software installed, and with the same key, can access that folder. The idea is that all of your family or friends can create a single data repository.

It’s free, so it is a little unsophisticated, but it is free.

There are a number of other companies starting to investigate this type of approach to Cloud based data storage and it marks the very early wave of data being taken out of the datacenter and released into the original Cloud, the Internet.






  1. Hi,
    Can you clarify please, “Data is encrypted, then broken into pieces, and distributed to other devices in the network with redundancy” whether this is a distributed storage, pieces of my files are stored on devices at other people’s homes and offices? Or stored on the devices within my own network? The extent of “network” is not clear, is it my network or the ‘Net. I have a home office and envision needing just one device.

    I currently have a Western Digital MyBookLive but cannot easily share files with other people without the hassle of them signing up for a WD2Go ID and learning to navigate another user interface. Dropbox is starting to get expensive for sharing files.

  2. Hi Tony,

    I’m still waiting for my device but have done some research on this and similar.

    Basically, you plug the device into your local wireless network. You then create a share (similar to DropBox or SkyDrive) that appears as a local drive on your laptop or PC. Any files you store there are stored on both the local machine, and the Space Monkey device.

    When the files hit the Space Monkey device, they are encrypted with a key that only you know. My understanding is that you can give access to files in their to others, again, similar to DropBox or similar.

    The files themselves are then sent to other Space Monkey boxes in pieces, encrypted. Think Bit Torrent and P2P. So, if you lose your device, then you buy a new one, and it syncs the data back. Those other devices can be anywhere in the world. The chance of someone breaking into them is almost an impossibility.

    So “the network” is both local and internet.

    I haven’t seen any similar services aside from Space Monkey yet. They are in manufacturing mode and I think still a couple of months from full production.

  3. Thanks for the quick reply. I’m currently looking at the Seagate GoFlex Home where I can create a share and email a colleague a link. From the link they can download the files. I have the option of setting a password to access the share. I posted a question to the Seagate forum to see if the colleague can upload files to the device. That would operate like dropbox but with no monthly subscription cost and essentially no limit to folder size. I’m not worried about redundancy because the device would only hold files I’m posting for a colleague, the original files are on other drives (PC and backup drives). The Space Monkey, and if it works, the GoFlex option offer essentially unlimited file sharing, at 2TB, that’s effectively limitless for my needs.

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