Shadow launches Shadow Drive • TechCrunch cloud storage service

Shadow is now officially a technology company with two different products. In addition to its cloud computing service that works particularly well for gaming, the company is launching Shadow Drive, a cloud storage service powered by Nextcloud.

“It has now been a year and a half since Octave Klaba acquired Blade with a vision: to break down technological barriers and bring the power of cloud computing to everyone,” co-founder and deputy CEO Stéphane Héliot said at a press conference in Paris.

Octave Klaba is the founder of OVHcloud and acquired Shadow (formerly called Blade) to save it from bankruptcy. Since then OVHcloud has been an important partner for Shadow. All Shadow servers have been moved to OVHcloud data centres.

In May 2022, the company unveiled its roadmap for the near future. It involves three different pillars: the consumer cloud computing service that has been Shadow’s flagship product since day one, a new cloud storage service, and a tailored offering for businesses.

After a few weeks of testing, Shadow officially launches its Shadow Drive cloud storage service. If you’ve been following Octave Klaba’s projects, you may remember his previous attempt at the space with hubiC. It was designed as a competitor to Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive, but it never took off.

Shadow is hitting the reset button with Shadow Drive. This time, the company is using Nextcloud as a foundation. If you’re not familiar with Nextcloud, it’s a popular open source online storage application that you can run on your own server.

Shadow Drive is a hosted service, which means you don’t have to run your own server or manage anything, just like WordPress.com can manage your WordPress website for you. Users can get a free account with 20GB of storage or pay $8.99 or €8.99 per month for 2TB of storage. Later, they can store, share and sync files so that these files can be accessed through a web browser, desktop app or mobile app.

“Shadow Drive is based on two offers, one free and one premium: simple,” said Shadow CEO Éric Sèle. “And we will never, ever monetize our users’ personal data or advertise on our website.”

This launch is just the first step as Shadow Drive is still a work in progress. For example, the iOS app is still in beta. The company also plans to add WebDAV support so you can add your cloud storage account as a network drive in File Explorer on Windows or Finder on macOS. There will also be more Nextcloud modules in the future.

A cloud computing service for gamers and businesses

As for Shadow’s core service, its cloud computing service, the company launched its premium plan just a few weeks ago. There are now two configurations.

By default, subscribers get the equivalent of an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for $29.99 a month or €29.99 in Europe. It’s a Windows instance, which means you can install whatever you want, like Steam, 3D editing software, and more.

Users can add the “Power Upgrade” option on top of their basic subscription for an additional $14.99 per month (or €14.99). This time around, you get an AMD EPYC 7543P CPU with 4 cores and 8 threads, 16GB of RAM, and an Nvidia RTX A4500 GPU.

I tried Shadow’s Power Upgrade and it was a very smooth experience. Shadow already has 8,000 customers using this new setup and the company is working hard to add new slots.

Image credits: Shadow

Shadow is currently available in eight data centers. Because latency is critical for a cloud computing service, the company only accepts customers who live near a data center. The service is available in the United States, Canada, France, United Kingdom, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Sweden and Denmark. On December 7, Shadow will add Spain to that list.

Users can access their Shadow instance from a computer, phone, tablet, smart TV running Android, or Apple TV. The idea is that you should be able to access your powerful Shadow computer from the simplest computing device.

That’s why Shadow is also releasing the first version of its Raspberry Pi app today. Once you’ve connected a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and (optionally) gamepad, you can log in to your Shadow instance.

The company has also recently been working with enterprise customers who want to control several Shadow instances. For example, Bandai Namco Europe used the service for the Elden Ring press campaign. But Shadow could also be used by architects, animation production companies, and all kinds of employees who need a powerful PC but don’t necessarily want to buy tower computers.

Shadow is formalizing that offering with Shadow Business Solutions. There are three different configurations:

  • Spark (2.5GHz to 3.1GHz Intel Xeon CPU, 8vCores, 256GB SSD, 12GB RAM, NVidia 1080/P5000 GPU)
  • Aurora (3.3GHz to 4.5GHz Intel Xeon CPU, 8vCores, 256GB SSD, 16GB RAM, NVidia RTX 5000 with 12GB GPU VRAM)
  • Lightning (3.3GHz to 4.5GHz Intel Xeon CPU, 12vCore, 512GB SSD, 32GB RAM, NVidia RTX 6000 with 24GB GPU VRAM)

These configurations cost €59, €89, and €139, respectively, per instance per month. You can bring your own Windows license or get a Windows Server 2019 license for an additional €30 per month.

On December 5, the company will begin offering a management tool so that enterprise customers can create, edit, and delete Shadow PCs from a special admin interface.

Again, this is just the first step as the company plans to add some features that will be important to enterprise customers, such as rights management, configuration duplication, group management, and backup management.

Finally, Shadow is also thinking about a new revenue stream with spot compute instances. If so, Shadow would offer on-demand GPU instances to train AI models and other GPU-intensive tasks. As you can see, Shadow is still investing across the board to add new products, new countries, and new customers. It’s still a relatively small company and cloud computing is a new industry.

So it will be interesting to see if Sony and Microsoft end up taking over the cloud gaming market and if the big cloud hosting companies also start investing heavily in cloud computing. For now, it appears that Shadow is back on the right track.

Image credits: Shadow

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