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Let us know the biggest obstacles you see in hosting your media on the Cloud.

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QVIVO (http://www.qvivo.com) started out out as a home based media center, organizing your media collection to be streaming around the home automatically. We've now taken this one step further by allowing users to sync their entire media collections to the QVIVO Cloud so they can pause their TV show on their Mac at home, resume it on their iPhone in the cab to work and finish it in their browser when they get there.

 
What technical, legal and financial obstacles do you see standing in the way of our new product direction?
initiated Apr 4, 2012 in Lessons Learned by Liam McCallum (320 points)   1 3 3
   

8 Responses

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My biggest obsticle is knowing if my hosted media will be there in a day, week, month, or 20 years.  If I host something that is not replaceable such as the last recording of a loved ones voice before they passed away will I always have that in the cloud?  When services close, are bought, shuttered and the like it sets up the idea that cloud storage is just temporary, and if it is just temporary then why not just have it stored on local media?  If I could get a guarantee of storage duration, paid even, I would jump at it.
response added Apr 10, 2012 by george endrulat (180 points)   1 2
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1. You'll need to be cheaper than my homebrew option -- which at this point is a server in the basement with 4 X 1T disks (mirrored in pairs), running FreeBSD.   I can copy/sync anything stored there to any computing device in the house quickly (when I'm here) and slowly (when I'm remote).   But the latter hardly matters: I don't NEED to download music to my laptop when I'm 800 miles away because I had the planning and foresight to do so before I left.

2. You'll need to demonstrate that you're backup-clueful.  Mine are run daily AND they're checked AND they're cataloged.

3. You'll need to demonstrate that you're security-clueful.   That means default-deny firewalls (in both drections), 100% open-source software throughout the entire company, strong cryptography, working RFC 2142 email addresses, etc.

4. You'll need to demontrate that you have a spine -- and the attorneys and funds to back it up.   That means fighting the MPAA, the RIAA, their proxies (e.g., DHS).  You'll also need to be prepared to have your entire operation confiscated WITHOUT leaking any information -- which means full-disk encryption on every system you have combined with multiple-factor authentication (so that no one person can reveal the keys).   None of this is easy or cheap.

5. Integration with external services (particularly social networks) is wrong and very, very stupid.  Don't do it.  It instantly renders your entire operation completely worthless to anyone who cares even a little bit about security and privacy.l

6. You'll need to work on MY computing platforms: *BSD, Linux, OpenIndiana.   If you tell me you're Windows-only or Windows/Mac-only then I'll presume you're idiots who don't understand the first principles of interoperability.

7. You'll need multiple data centers: one physical location, even if supported with UPS/generators, multiple data providers, etc. is always vulnerable.   (Pro tip: it costs much, MUCH less to run three inexpensive and redundant data centers than one super-hardened one.  Also the three will be far more reliable.)

8. You'll need an interface that doesn't suck.   That means: something that I can use from the command line so that I can script it so that I can automate it.  If you force me to go through some singing and dancing Javascript-driven monstrosity that constantly gets in my way, I'm gone.

9. You'll need to convince me that your admins aren't snooping through my stuff.  You will need instantly and PUBLICLY fire anyone caught doing so, which means you'll need a means of detecting them and you'll need to force them to sign an employee agreement stating that this is what will happen when they're caught.   (Why?  Because "we dealt with the problem"  is opaque and untrustworthy.   You MUST fully disclose all such incidents, you MUST name names, you MUST hold absolutely nothing back...because the first time you do, we'll all know you're lying.)

10. You'll need to solve the problem of keeping useful logs (for debugging, billing, etc.) while making sure that those logs never fall into the wrong hands.  Someone who comes into possession of the logfiles associated with my account will know rather a lot of information about that nobody should ever know.   This isn't an easy problem -- I know, I've struggled with it myself -- but you'll need to tackle it because otherwise someone could get that info via (a) court order (b) intrusion (c) payoff of one of your staff.  (And don't think that last won't or can't happen: someone offered 10X their annual salary tax-free for a DVD worth of compressed log files would be tempted.)

That's enough for now -- that's a pretty large and difficult problem set.  I'd like to see how you plan to address each one of these in an integrated fashion.  (Yes, I KNOW it's hard.   I couldn't solve all these in an afternoon either.  But the time to think this through is long before you put up even the first server.  You need to have all the long arguments at the whiteboard before you start architecting and building.)
response added Apr 11, 2012 by Tempes Fugit (250 points)   1 2
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1) Don't make me load a client-side app!  I want all my transactions done in browser.

2) Don't overvalue storage.  I recently made my first cloud based storage purchase when Google offered 20GB for $5...PER YEAR!  By my calculation that is close to the current retail price for storage.

3) Don't surcharge the high cost of my broadband.  If I have to pay an additional fee to make speedy transfers using your service, I won't bother.

4) K.I.S.S. - There's no technological reason this needs to be complicated.

Good luck!
response added Apr 11, 2012 by Tim Lash (180 points)   1 2
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On the legal side, I'd guess that someone will sue and try to claim that this process is an unauthorized re-broadcast of copyrighted content. (And even if the logic is flawed, the legal process could make it through several courts -- eg. Cablevision.)

response added Apr 5, 2012 by Michael Ho (2,370 points)   2 14 27
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Hmmm, I see three concerns with this, the first is an echo of Michael Ho's comment above. How long before one of the legacy industries decides to sue you out of business? They don't have to be right (either morally or legally), they just need deep pockets.

The second concern is around durability. I don't know how your system works but anything that I entrust to a 3rd party I will need to retain a copy of myself, and a back up. I've seen too many server-based-systems turned off and content lost.

The third concern is much more minor, I'm not a mac user!
response added Apr 8, 2012 by drew stephenson (3,370 points)   2 10 22
@blinddrew QVIVO's on Mac too :)
@qvivo Liam, I'll let you re-read my final point ;~)
Is it available on mac and pc or just mac?
@blinddrew Drew, there's a Windows download, so it works on PCs AND macs (not just macs). But it looks like the mobile versions only work on iOS devices, not Android or Windows Mobile...
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Hey Drew/Michael,
 
QVIVO's terms and business models are very similar to Google Music's where it's up to the user to ensure they have the rights to store stream their own content - but you're right, there's always someone who may want to challenge this view. Since a user can never share their media collection from the QVIVO Cloud (like you can from Rapidshare or even Dropbox) then we never run the risk of facilitating file-sharing.
 
Drew - Durability is absolutely a concern for all of us. We use Amazon for our Cloud infrastructure but even they go down occasionally. QVIVO will stream from the nearest source so if you have a movie on your NAS drive then it will choose to stream to your Mac from there before choosing the QVIVO Cloud. Perhaps a hybrid approach should be storing a copy of your favorites locally and leave the B's and C's on the Cloud?
 
Great comments - cheers guys!
 
Liam
response added Apr 9, 2012 by Liam McCallum (320 points)   1 3 3
@qvivo there are a few more good suggestions in the Techdirt comments:
http://www.techdirt.com/blog/startups/articles/20120405/04582318387/what-obstacles-are-there-to-storing-your-own-media-cloud-step2-startups-feedback-wanted.shtml

Partial Summary:
1) Privacy/Trust issues -- will my hosted data be data mined? Or released to other parties?
2) Bandwidth issues -- how will ISP data caps impact my usage of my media?
3) Encryption -- can my data be encrypted to protect it from potentially prying eyes?
4) Reliability issues -- this service relies on wireless ISPs -- who could throttle usage or otherwise make this service less useful.
@qvivo "Since a user can never share their media collection from the QVIVO Cloud (like you can from Rapidshare or even Dropbox) then we never run the risk of facilitating file-sharing." While true, lockers and long cables are still hotly contested in court. Cyber lockers have yet to win a clear, unambiguous ruling. Likewise for long-cable services (remote DVR for example). The service, while legal under any rational interpretation of the law, has not yet been rendered functionally legal under all irrational interpretations.
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Technically, one problem I see is that I have no idea how to upload, say, my Blu-Ray (or HD-DVD) collection. Will this Cloud Manager automatically upload all of my iTunes music/podcasts? And... how long will all that take? If I want "instant gratification" for streaming a new DVD to my iPhone on a trip, will I have to wait a few hours for my computer to rip the DVD and upload it to the cloud? That doesn't sound too exciting.
response added Apr 10, 2012 by Michael Ho (2,370 points)   2 14 27
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<p>
    To succeed (imho), cloud storage must guarantee cost, availability and recoverability.&nbsp;</p>
<p>
    1. Cost. What I pay for storage this year should not vary dramatically from what I pay next year. The terms and conditions for how much storage I get and for how long should not vary (think ATT iPhone data plans as the classic use case of what not to do). If I pay $5/month for unlimitted storage this year, I should not be expected to switch to "tiered" storage plans next year, and I need some guarantee that this won't happen in advance. Cost is expected to rise with inflation, but if I commit 250 GB of media to the cloud, I never want to feel like my cloud access is held hostage to price increases. Further, as long as I continue to pay for service at the same or similar terms as when I started, I should never fear a reduction in service offerings should the terms of service change.</p>
<p>
    2. Availability. I'm going to spend a considerable amount of my own time importing and organizing and uploading my files to this service. Cloud availability should have good uptime. Ditto to all other legal reservations noted above.</p>
<p>
    3. Recoverability. Cloud storage should be a two way street. If my local systems fail, I should be able to recover from the cloud. Expedited recovery options (at cost) are a bonus.</p>
response added Apr 10, 2012 by Christopher Froehlich (160 points)   1 1
edited Apr 10, 2012 by Christopher Froehlich
Also, it would be nice if this (unrelated) comment system worked in Chrome--that is, if the comment system didn't add literal markup and/or offered some way to delete literal '<p>' tags, etc.

4. Further, Facebook integration is not a feature (imho). I don't like logging in and/or using Facebook. Any product which requires me to do so gets a -1.

5. Limitations are bad. iTunes is the best example I can think of. The 5 device limit is a non-starter. Cloud users trend toward enthusiasts. I burn through OS/device installations like free mochas. I should be able to install/sync/upload/restore from any device, at any time, without hassle.
@crfroehlich Definite  1 on the facebook thing!

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