Startup takes on Dropbox, Box, using cloud and local storage

Startup takes on Dropbox, Box, using cloud and local storage
Credit: Frank Hebbert

As an alternative to enterprise and small-business file sharing services, Infinit pools storage from cloud services and your own data center -- all available to clients as if they were on local disks

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New startup Infinit is offering a spin on shared-storage solutions like Box and Dropbox. The difference: It gangs together storage from multiple providers-- local disks, NAS volumes, Google Cloud Storage, and Amazon S3 -- and presents them as a single pool that can be shared on multiple client platforms as if it were a native local drive.

Infinit exists in three forms: a set of open source projects, a client application, and a set of SaaS applications that can either be consumed by an enterprise as-is or rebranded and resold.

Shared-storage systems like Dropbox, BitTorent Sync, or Google Drive work by making complete client-side copies of shared files. Infinit, on the other hand, makes the contents of a storage pool available through a virtual drive mount, with the file data served up at the block level rather than the file level. All files are encrypted upon insertion.

schema global Infinit.sh

Infinit uses a mesh network to link together multiple storage resources and presents them as if they were locally mounted drives with block-level access.

Infinit lists several advantages to this approach. For one, the customer can, if they choose, control where and how the data is stored -- in their own data centers or on a cloud service where they already have an account. Another is that the decentralized overlay network used to serve the files automatically provides load balancing and fault tolerance.

Also, clients with limited amounts of local storage can always access what's in the share, even if the client can't cache it locally. (An entire file can be cached locally for the sake of speed, but only if needed.) This would be most useful in situations where a client needs block-level access to large files that can't be synchronized locally -- such as a monolithic binary blob of some kind.

Infinit's road map for the product has several new features lined up for the short term, many of which echo the feature sets of its competitors, such as file versioning and group-based access controls. Amazon AWS S3 and Backblaze B2 storage, and integration with Microsoft Windows file systems, are set to come in February of this year.

Right now, access to Infinit Drive and Infinit Cloud, the small-business and enterprise versions of the product, are restricted to invitations only, but it's possible to sign up for early access. The open source pieces haven't all been released yet, but the first of them have started to show up on Infinit's GitHub site.

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