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Will Bitcasa be su casa for files?

Bitcasa took in $7 million in Series A funding to enter the cloud storage market this week. The startup also launched an open beta for its consumer file storage cloud and declared plans to expand its service to businesses later this year.

Bitcasa CEO Tony Gauda hopes to lure consumers with the promise of unlimited cloud data for $10 per month. He said Bitcasa already stores more than a billion files and 4 PB of data on Amazon S3 from its private beta customers. The plan is for Bitcasa to eventually host its own cloud, Gauda said.

Within six months, Gauda hopes to have an SMB version that will likely be priced on a per seat basis.
“Today we are consumer-oriented,” he said. “But there’s a huge SMB enterprise play in our technology.”

Gauda said Bitcasa can serve as primary storage as well as backup and archiving. Bitcasa software integrates into the operating system on any computer running Windows, Mac OS X or Linux. The user clicks on a folder to make it “infinite.” Data written to the folder will go to the cloud but appear as if it is local on the device. Bitcasa compresses, deduplicates and encrypts data before sending to the cloud. It also caches frequently accessed files locally.

Installing in the OS might scare some people, but Gauda said it is necessary.

“Bitcasa intercepts OS calls and looks like a hard disk to the OS or applications running on that device,” Gauda said. “From a user perspective it’s transparent, that’s why we had to be in the OS.”

Does the world really need another cloud file storage service? Gauda is counting on it, because most of the services today don’t handle primary data.

“This is your primary copy – it’s always available, you can access it through clients installed,” he said.“Just use Explorer, go to where the folder usually is, and the data looks like it’s already there. Even without internet connectivity, you have access to data you use on regular basis because it’s cached.”

Bitcasa’s funding came from Pelion Venture Partners and Horizons Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, CrunchFund, and Samsung Ventures.

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