IT-as-a-service provider ThinkGrid is adding cloud-based storage to its portfolio, enabling UK companies to purchase online storage for a monthly fee. The company is also enabling customers to securely share content with third parties in this way, and access online files from smartphones as well as Windows PCs.
Available immediately, ThinkGrid Cloud Storage offers an alternative to growing on-site storage costs by enabling companies to buy hosted space starting at £1 per gigabyte per month.
"Cloud storage is a growing market, but we're looking to roll out a service that's more than just a 'bucket in a cloud' to drop your data in," said ThinkGrid chief operating officer David Pratt.
To this end, the service enables customers to provide colleagues and external third parties with shared access to online files, akin to an online version of Microsoft SharePoint server.
A web portal allows the user to specify the folders to which each third party has access, and for how long. The system can then send credentials to the person by email.
"It's an easy and intuitive way to share information," said Pratt.
Access to files in cloud storage is typically via a web browser using Secure Socket Layer security or the WebDAV protocol, but ThinkGrid can provide drivers that enable a user's Windows PC to access their cloud storage as if it was a file share on their local network.
Customers using ThinkGrid's hosted virtual desktop service can take advantage of the same feature, Pratt said.
ThinkGrid can also provide a software client for iPhone, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile smartphones, allowing users to access files from these devices while on the move.
As with the client for PCs, this enables users to directly browse files from their handset, as well as write files to their cloud storage from any applications, such as the mobile Office tools on Windows Mobile smartphones.
ThinkGrid's Cloud Storage is "incredibly flexible", according to Pratt.
"There's no long-term commitment; you just pay on a monthly basis for the capacity you want. You can expand or shrink the amount you have access to, as required," he said.
The technology behind the service is Mezeo's cloud platform, which protects files using the 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard, and which ThinkGrid is running on its own infrastructure. The firm said that its services are hosted in multiple datacentres, and offer 99.99 per cent availability.
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