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There are quite a few new products trying to take advantage of post-Snowden distrust in public cloud services. Last week I reported on Protonet crowdfunding $1 million in 89 minutes for its server-and-software bundle, and now a cheaper alternative called Sher.ly has cleared its own $69,000 Kickstarter goal days after launching its appeal.
Sher.ly is software that can be installed on a network-attached storage (NAS) device to enable secure sharing of data stored on the device, chat and other collaboration-friendly features. It is not a million miles from Protonet’s approach, but rather than providing homegrown alternatives to the likes of Dropbox, as Protonet does, Sher.ly rather tries to plug into the services that it reckons its potential customers already use, acting as a secure front-end for sharing data stored on them.
“We don’t fight with Dropbox,” co-founder Marek Ciesla told me. “We say no, use your Dropbox but add extra security and control over it and extra chat collaboration, but you use whatever you like. They [Protonet] do revolutionary; we do evolutionary.”
The Kickstarter campaign, which met its goal on Monday but still has 23 days to run (right now it’s just over $75,000), is for a cutely-designed little NAS box with the Sher.ly software preinstalled – the earliest crowdfunding “perks” have been claimed, but a $199 pledge will now get the funder a Sherlybox with a 1TB drive inside and a lifetime Sher.ly license.
Is it just another NAS? In terms of the basic concept, you can certainly find similar ideas from Buffalo, Western Digital, Synology and so on. That said, Sher.ly is pushing hard on the simplicity aspect (press the logo button thrice and you should have a connection with your computer if it’s on the same network) and the strength of Sher.ly’s core GatelessVPN secure connectivity technology (a peer-to-peer system that effectively shares files and folders by offering VPN-type connections to them).
Sherlybox uses Raspberry Pi, which means a variety of plugins are available to make the device useful in different contexts. For example, Sher.ly wants to make media files stored on the device play nicely through streaming tools including Plex.tv and XMBC, turning Sherlybox into a media hub.
Sher.ly is based in Palo Alto, Calif. but its founders are Polish and Ciesla told me research and development would likely stay in Krakow, even if the company gets seed funding to develop its business and sales and marketing side over in the U.S.