Thanks for the feedback!
Security is definitely the first thing that people talk about. Both from the buyer and seller side - sellers don’t want their data stolen, malware installed etc. And buyers don’t want the host PC to have access to their data.
I guess my view on this has several angles:
a. We’ve built security into the system from the ground up - communications are secured, there are various internal checks that detect potentially rogue clients/intrusion attempts and automatically shutdown and delete files, etc. For the seller, the key security aspects are that the code can only ever be run in a secure virtual machine, and that it has integrated firewall to prevent LAN sniffing etc. Both of these are already covered.
b. We make it as difficult as possible for the host to get access to the data, however at the end of the day, there is currently no technology in the world that will prevent the host from accessing the data (and this applies regardless of which IaaS provider you use). We just make it sufficiently hard that it requires someone with fairly deep engineering skills to do.
This is already safer than running your software on a normal IaaS provider Amazon. If you run on EC2, Amazon engineers have full access to your apps and data. And they have a team of 1000 very competent sysadmins, that both wrote the system and have full access. Amazon has had plenty of security breaches in the past too.
c. The big difference is that with a crowd-sourced solution like Slicify, NO ONE PERSON has access to your full data set. You’re most likely splitting it up and running it over 10-100 different providers. With Amazon by contrast, if you have a security breach, you’ll lose your entire app and data in one go.
Unfortunately when talking with potential clients, there is also an element which is the same with all startups - that clients prefer the established, larger players, not because they are better, but because they are seen as the ‘safe’ option (“Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”).
On the problem of nodes coming and going, this is already an aspect of the Amazon spot market, which is what most of our target customers are currently using. So in that sense it is no worse than the competition.
At the same time, we’re adding a feature that shows uptime for specific machines. That way buyers can identify machines that are more stable. At the same time, if the machine goes down, they don’t pay for the last hour. So as long as they snapshot their results once per hour, they won’t be losing money - they’d just need to fire up another machine and run it again.
Regarding usage figures, as of time of writing (beginning Nov 2013) we have 200+ active sellers, and 50+ nodes online at any one time.