Today, I have decided to start Privazio, a private cloud for residential users, startups or workgroups with a special focus on privacy.
Background and motivation
At first, it was cool! You could just buy a domain name, setup Google Apps, open a few accounts here and there and you had a decent online presence for your startup or family at almost no cost.
No more racks or noisy servers, no data-center contracts, equipment renting, hardware failures. It was pretty cool!
Then came Snowden revelations and the "collect everything" motto shocking the whole world. It became clear that it is fairly irresponsible to blindly hand control of data to third parties.
All those "free" services are paid in privacy currency.
As our lives become increasingly digital, it is very hard to understand the ramifications of handing over our privacy.
We need to regain digital independence and take back control of our own data.
A first attempt
Public Clouds took us back to "the mainframe", future affordability of computer hardware will once again decentralize computing.
It was very nice to hear historic VCs making this argument despite the hype and commercial success of public clouds.
Once the Raspberry Pi first came out I understood that it would not take long before the previous statement would materialize in some shape or form, so I started bringing home my own infrastructure.
At the time, cloud platforms such as OpenStack were starting to be mature but they seemed too focused on running complex, multi-tenant data-centers. Three or four high spec servers were required before you could even start a single virtual machine.
A cocktail of Puppet + Linux + Libvirt + Lxd + Raspberry Pi + L2 tunnels allowed me to get started with my own thing, at least as a hobby. I started regaining digital independence for my family and my startup company.
However it increasingly became hard to maintain. A few servers, dozen VMs, hundreds of containers. Lots of automation code…
During the past few years industry has been quickly converging with the vision above. On the hardware front, single board computers are increasingly powerful partly driven by mobile computing. Affordable phones can now pack 8 CPUs and 6 GBs of RAM, that is powerful enough to provide digital presence to most of us.
On the software front, exciting platforms such as Open Nebula can deliver private, enterprise-class cloud computing and simplicity at the same time. Docker and Ansible are also great enabling technologies that have reached maturity.
What Privazio should be
Privazio should be an open source community effort to regain digital independence, packaged as a private cloud, capable of running on affordable, fanless hardware, powerful enough to serve most families and small businesses.
Privazio should make it trivial to establish and maintain digital presence by means of email, webs, blogs, forums, wikies… while retaining control of data, privacy.
Privazio is not meant to be a substitute to existing cloud management tools and platforms, but rather adapt them to the target public and make them easy to adopt.
Between performance and privacy, privazio must chose the latter.