Symform, QNAP Bring Together Cloud Storage and NAS

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On-premise storage and cloud storage came a little closer together Tuesday through a new partnership between network-attached storage (NAS) specialist QNAP Systems and cloud storage provider Symform.

Under the terms of the deal, all new QNAP units will come with up to 200 GB of free cloud backup from Symform, and existing customers will also receive the free cloud backup through a free software update. Symform said QNAP customers would simply have to click on the Symform tab in the QNAP Cloud Backup wizard to register and start backing up their NAS data to the Symform cloud. Customers that need more than the free storage provided by Symform can get unlimited cloud backup from the company for a flat monthly fee.

Symform said QNAP customers could also use Symform to synchronize critical data directly from a QNAP device, between multiple QNAP devices or between a QNAP device and other devices like laptops and tablet PCs.

Symform prides itself on offering some of the lowest prices in cloud storage -— and unlimited storage at that -— which it is able to do, based on its somewhat unusual architecture. The Symform Storage Cloud Network takes its inspiration from distributed computing, a model whose most famous incarnation is most likely the SETI@home project, which allows people to contribute unused processor cycles on their computers to help the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley analyze radio signals as part of the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence.

The difference, according to Margaret Dawson, vice president of marketing at Symform, is that Symform users don’t donate processor cycles; they donate unused storage. She explained that most businesses use less than 50 percent of their storage capacity. The idea behind Symform is that organizations can leverage that unused capacity by donating it to the storage network and receiving an equivalent amount of cloud storage in return.

“You contribute the same amount you’re consuming,” she said. “It should always be augmenting or extending what you have on-premise.”

In this way, customers are able to access secure cloud backup and disaster recovery services at a much lower cost than traditional cloud storage, as little as $25 per month for QNAP customers.

Dawson said data uploaded to the Symform Storage Cloud Network is encrypted and fragmented into 96 bits, which are then distributed to 96 geographical areas on the network. This, in turn, provides a number of benefits, according to Dawson. First, there is no single point of security risk. Second, because it’s fragmented the system doesn’t try to shove the whole dataset down one pipe to another data center, meaning it’s speedier. And third, the system provides self-healing capabilities.

Thor Olavsrud is a contributor to, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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