Sify Technologies has launched Sify Mystorage, a cloud based online storage and backup solution for consumers and small businesses. The service allows users to store data remotely, and access it through a web based interface as well as through a desktop application. Sify mystorage will offer different plans, starting with a free trial plan offering 2GB storage going upto 100 GB with 6 or 12 months validity options. According to the company, it will target its 80,000 broadband customers and 19 million visitors on its website Sify.com to market the service.

Features: In terms of features, the service offers users the option to backup files from any number of computers, laptops and netbooks on a single account, the ability to schedule automatic back-ups, a Windows based desktop app with drag & drop and folder structure mimicking the desktop, ability to do a selective backup, encrypt files, MS Office integration and built in search among others. But the big question here is, will Sify be able to make consumers and specifically home users pay for cloud storage? Would it even be able to make them give up Dropbox to use its free storage plan? It would be interesting to see how it plans to pitch the offering to home consumers, specially the ones unaware of cloud storage.

Pricing: Sify is making a conscious effort to reflect that the 2GB plan is a trial offer and that the minimum plan that the customer can opt for is the 10 GB plan priced at Rs 1200 for 6 months. We feel that it should offer smaller sachet packs for 1 month, at least in the initial phase and have a low price barrier. It could bundle it with its broadband plans perhaps.

Sify Mystorage VS Dropbox: Dropbox is a widely used cloud storage solution that offers 2 GB free storage to all users, while a 50GB or 100 GB upgrade costs $9.99 or $19.99 per month. The advantage that Dropbox offers over others is that it syncs files on all connected devices, so essentially a copy of the file stays on the server, while another one stays on the computer’s storage drive, so that access is quicker. Also, Dropbox offers clients for major Desktop and Mobile OS platforms including Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Android, and BlackBerry. Not to forget the third party apps which extend its functionality to other platforms. Sify’s solution only offers a Windows Client and categorically mentions that it doesn’t support Mac OS- this will limit user adoption

Apps also offer the ability to create files and directly save it to the Dropbox folders on devices that don’t allow file system access, such as the iPhone.We don’t know if Sify’s web client supports mobile use. At a time when tablets and mobiles are increasingly supplementing laptop/netbook use, it’s strange that Sify is completely ignoring them. Also, since Dropbox integrates with the operating system’s native file browser (Windows Explorer on Windows and Finder on Mac OS), there’s no need for special plug-ins and any file can be directly saved to the user’s Dropbox folder. Sify’s client does not seem to offer deep integration and uses a separate application. It also does not appear to support real time synchronization of files. If Sify is serious about the offering, it should make it truly cross platform. It’s not a Windows only world anymore. It also needs to add more features to make it mobile-friendly.

Other Solutions: Microsoft’s SkyDrive is another solution that offers 25 GB of free storage if you happen to have a Windows Live ID. However, it limits individual files to 100MB. SkyDrive is tightly integrated with its Office Suite (both Desktop and Web versions), E-mail and mobile OS platform, Windows Phone 7. Apple also offers its own cloud storage solution iCloud, with 5GB of free storage and allows users to connect their iOS and Mac OS devices for seamless synchronisation of data across devices. Airtel also offers 10 GB of server storage space to Broadband Customers who subscribe to its Online Desktop service, however, we’ve not really seen it promoting it.