A startup wants to bring the cloud back to earth, and cut it down to size

Key Points
  • Tech startup Latticework has created the Amber, a small cube that holds your files, videos and photos.
  • Unlike other devices, the Amber does not upload your data to the cloud.
  • Latticework is betting on the Amber’s security to eke sales out of heavy cloud users.
Amber cloud 
Source: Latticework

If one company has its way, the cloud is about to come down to earth.

In tech startup Latticework’s vision of the future, a small cube — about the size of a stereo speaker and called the Amber — sits in the background, quietly soaking up your files, videos and photos. The device is the brainchild of Latticework CEO Pantas Sutardja, the former Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Marvell Technology.

But unlike cloud services that distribute the same data to more places with less privacy, all the data held by Latticework remains inside the Amber. “If you put it in the cloud, it’s hard to protect,” Sutardja told CNBC’s Squawk Box on Friday.

“There’s no free lunch in the world,” said Sutardja talking about competitors like Google Drive. “Their business model is to learn as much about you, and sell all your data,” he said — which makes that information vulnerable to security breaches or misuse.

The trick, of course, lies in software: the Amber allows users access to files through the Internet through what it calls the “hybrid cloud,” a way of accessing these local files online.

The device creates a “hybrid” between cloud and physical storage, because at heart it’s in fact a miniaturized home server, a tinier version of a massive Dell or IBM rack computer.

The Amber is a simple black box with rounded corners and a glowing LED ring on its top, almost like a squared version of Apple’s HomePod. Plug it in. All it takes to make it work is to install the corresponding software on the machines you want backed up.

The concept is not entirely new—while many lack the software Amber provides, a Network Attached Storage device, or NAS, fulfils many of the same functions, and can easily be built at home. Some even come pre-made with basic software that allows for remote access.

Latticework is betting on the Amber’s security to eke sales out of heavy cloud users.

The device, which debuted at the Pepcom tech event in New York City this week, will retail for $549.99. It is available online directly from Latticework at the discounted price of $399.99.