Digital Lifeboat: Data Backup without the Data Centers

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somewhere else on the network. You’re actually not even required to function as a storage node—you just have to give Digital Lifeboat the option. If a user has an old machine that is getting stuffed with files, the Digital Lifeboat software will just use other parts of the network.

“In aggregate, the average PC brings way more resources to the cloud than they consume,” Teglovic says.

Other companies have tried something similar, Teglovic says, but require more action from the users—they have to opt in with more contributions to the system in order to get more storage, and do too much junior system administrator work.

“We’re betting the company that the amount of free space in the cloud will always be adequate. And no one else has ever made that bet or built … the system to make all of the technology behind that opaque to the user,” he says.

In the year or so that it was in beta mode, Teglovic says, Digital Lifeboat has added more than 5,000 users and is managing more than 3 petabytes of hard drive storage (a petabyte is 1 million gigabytes). “That is a hell of a lot of space,” he says.

Digital Lifeboat is betting that its prices, starting at $30 a year, will be much more attractive to consumers than some options they are more familiar with. Carbonite’s unlimited backup starts at $60 per computer per year, and Mozy’s is about $72 for 50 gigabytes, which is billed as one computer’s worth of space. Digital Lifeboat can price lower because it’s operating a storage business on software’s much higher margins, Teglovic says.

The company’s other founder is Steve Hull, who serves as Digital Lifeboat’s technology chief. Hull and Teglovic have worked together before, when Teglovic was CEO and Hull the vice president of engineering at iShip, a shipping software company. iShip was purchased by for more than $200 million in stock in 1999, and then sold to UPS in 2001.

Teglovic says the peer-to-peer idea behind Digital Lifeboat is gaining steam in the broader technology marketplace, with examples like video-calling service Skype and social music upstart Spotify using connections between users to deliver their products.

“It’s a quietly developing paradigm,” Teglovic says. “If you look at all the computers in the country, that’s a lot of computing power. And the question has always been, what can you use it for?” Back at that office between the trailer park and the cemetery, they think they’ve found a pretty good answer.

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