As more applications move to the cloud, developers and users give up control in favor of simplicity. Sandstorm, an open source personal cloud platform, doesn’t believe it has to be this way.
Sandstorm wants to make running a personal web server as easy as running a phone. The platform combines a unified login system, a unified sharing system, and apps that are securely “sandboxed” so one bad app can’t take down the whole server. So far apps that have been ported to Sandstorm include email, CMS and hosting, document sharing, and music.
Founded by former Google engineer Kenton Varda, Sandstorm launched its platform in March, and recently started a crowdfunding campaign on Indigogo. So far it has reached 31 percent of its $50,000 goal.
According to its Indiegogo campaign page, “Sandstorm gives you the experience you are used to getting from services like Gmail or Dropbox, but using the software you choose, on servers you control.” This means that data is stored in one central location, rather than fragmented across the internet. It also means that apps do not disappear if the developer stops supporting them (remember Google Reader?)
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, personal cloud platforms like Sandbox mean that the developer of the app can’t “spy on you, perform experiments on you, or mine your data for advertising purposes.”
This last point has become more significant for users as concerns around government spying have become more serious. Personal cloud hosting, while not for everyone, could help some users feel better about the privacy and security of their applications. In May, Indie Box One launched its Indigogo campaign for a personal web hosting project. It closed its campaign on June 20 after only raising $13,083 of its $50,000 goal. Its Indiegogo page says the company had a “change of plans.”
According to a report by WIRED, Sandstorm will also make it easy for web hosts to run “just about any Linux application…and though Sandstorm will offer its own application hosting service, the softaer platform is open source, so any hosting company can run it.”
With the initial funding from Indiegogo, Sandstorm wants to be accessible to everyone either via their own machine or one a subscription-based shared hosting model. If Sandstorm raises $100,000, it will develop and run an app marketplace to let indie and open source developers sell their apps on a pay what you want model. Once Sandstorm reaches $150,000 it will develop a Powerbox interface which will allow apps to establish secure links.