Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sharpcast Keeps Your Data Synchronized

Occasionally I find a product that simplifies our digital life that is worthy of mention. No, it is not another Web 2.0 social networking site. The company is called Sharpcast, and their mission is to keep our digital lives synchronized independent of the devices that we use. For years I have struggled to keep my work laptop synchronized with my home desktop computer. Since I travel frequently with my work computer, I need to manage my personal and work life from the road. Neither Apple nor Microsoft have stepped up and made it easy to keep data synchronized from one machine to the next. The best that I currently have in Microsoft's SyncToy. Now I have a web enabled phone, laptop, and desktop computers where I would like access to the same data.

Sharpcast aims to put an end to the complexities of spreading data between multiple machines. Hummingbird plans to be a universal synchronization platform for all of your files. Files can be shared between PCs, Macs, the web, and mobile phones. The software acts as a virtual drive on the device keeping data replicated on their web servers. Not only does it offer the ability to access your data anywhere from any machine; it also provides a secure off-site backup. No more mailing files to yourself at home to work on that project at home. Files can be shared between multiple users to allow for simple collaboration.

Currently the product only works with photographs, but they plan to start alpha trials with Hummingbird soon. I for one will be anxious to test this software. Hopefully they will allow for storage of a few GB of data because I presently keep about 2 GB of data in My Documents. I assume that they eventually will charge for storage, but this is a service I would gladly pay $5 per month to use.

Although the utility for the Sharpcast service is high, I wonder how they will position it to make money. Businesses will be reluctant to use it for collaboration because it lacks the features and security of Microsoft's LCS. Its performance, capacity, and security does not make it a replacement for network attached storage. Hummingbird fits nicely in the informal storage and collaboration space where companies are concerned about security. If the a business acknowledges that employees informally share information and frequently take it home, then they may see some business penetration. Their best bet it to partner with major broadband service providers to offer it as a service to residential and small business subscribers. Maybe Microsoft will absorb them into their Live Services. Just let me get my hands on it. I need it now!

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