Local cloud outfit Ninefold has made it a lot easier to create online files in the cloud, thanks to a service that lets you 'walk' disk drives onto its servers.
Cloud storage is a wonderful idea, because being able to store your business' files in a secure data centre represents a layer of protection for your data that most small businesses would struggle to afford.
But cloud storage and placing online files in the cloud is hard because of the letter A, or at least when it is used in the acronym ADSL or Asymetric Digital Subscriber Line. "Asymetric" means unequal, and in the context of ADSL it translates into a broadband service that is not as fast to upload as it is to download. Most ADSL services offer up to 24 megabits per second downloads and just one megabit per second upload.
That slow upload speed stops many people sending data to cloud storage services, because it is just so slow to get data into the cloud.
Ninefold is not the first to recognise this problem. Amazon Web Services Import/Export service lets you ship disk drives to Amazon, which uploads into the cloud. The service apparently works well, but the nearest place to which you can ship a drive is Singapore. Amazon Web Services uses DHL to transport drives, but some may worry that it's a long way for a drive to go. Then there's the issue of latency - the extra time it takes to access data stored a long physical distance from your office. Data stored in Singapore will nearly always experience more latency than data housed onshore.
Enter Ninefold, which has just announced its own version of an Import/Export service, dubbed 'sneakernet ' to denote the manual work involved in walking disks around its office. For $75 and some service fees, Ninefold will take a USB 2.0 or eSata drive and upload it into the Ninefold cloud.
That's an easy on-ramp to cloud storage that gets around the problem of slow uploads.
But if you decide to use the Ninefold cloud as a backup service, you'll need to find a way to send updates to your cloud. At the time of writing you'll need technical skills to make new uploads. But sneakernet does make it t easier than ever to get your initial data dump up and running in the cloud. And at just over nine cents per gigabyte per month to store your stuff, the price is right.