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Distributed cloud backup service developer Symform this week unveiled a new pricing program under which users can actually use the service for free in exchange for Symform's use of excess storage capacity in the users' storage systems.
Under the new program, which Seattle-based Symform called "Bytes or Bucks," customers can either pay 15 cents per GB per month for its Symform Cloud Storage Network service, or provide 2 GB of free space to Symform for each GB of data backed up on the Symform system.
Symform, which in late 2009 came out of stealth mode, develops distributed cloud backup technology that protects a customer's data by breaking it into tiny blocks, encrypting those blocks and then dispersing them across excess capacity on multiple customers' storage devices.
At 15 cents per GB per month for cloud-based data protection, Symform is already priced competitively, said Margaret Dawson, vice president of product management for the vendor.
Under the "Bytes or Bucks" program, that price is really aimed at incentivizing customer to pay for the service with "Bytes," or excess capacity Symform can use, instead of "Bucks," Dawson said.
"Our number one priority is getting more capacity available for customers," she said. "In the market today, we're seeing between 7 cents and 40 cents per GB per month. So we're still very competitive. We're not providing raw storage. We're expanding data protection to the cloud."
Symform plans to take the capacity provided by customers who use its service for no charge as a way to expand its reach to customers who will pay, Dawson said.
"In the short term, some people will pay for the capacity," she said. "And some customers will pay for support. And over time, we will monetize that capacity."
Symform customers can also get discounted support by providing excess capacity, Dawson said. "If the customer ends up providing more local drive space in excess of the 2-to-1 ration needed to maintain their 'Bytes' balance, we provide a discount for their support."