OwnCloud: An open-source cloud to call your own

OwnCloud: An open-source cloud to call your own

Summary: OwnCloud, a Linux-based program that enables you to set up your own personal cloud, is on its way to becoming a commercial program under former SUSE executive Markus Rex.


Want your own personal cloud? Check out ownCloud.

Want your own personal cloud? Check out ownCloud.

Everyone likes personal cloud services, like Apple's iCloud, Google Music, and Dropbox. But, many of aren't crazy about the fact that our files, music, and whatever are sitting on someone else's servers without our control. That's where ownCloud comes in.

OwnCloud is an open-source cloud program. You use it to set up your own cloud server for file-sharing, music-streaming, and calendar, contact, and bookmark sharing project. As a server program it's not that easy to set up. OpenSUSE, with its Mirall installation program and desktop client makes it easier to set up your own personal ownCloud, but it's still not a simple operation. That's going to change.

According to ownCloud's business crew, "OwnCloud offers the ease-of-use and cost effectiveness of Dropbox and box.net with a more secure, better managed offering that, because it's open source, offers greater flexibility and no vendor lock in. This makes it perfect for business use. OwnCloud users can run file sync and share services on their own hardware and storage or use popular public hosting and storage offerings." I've tried it myself and while setting it up is still mildly painful, once up ownCloud works well.

OwnCloud enables universal access to files through a Web browser or WebDAV. It also provides a platform to easily view and sync contacts, calendars and bookmarks across all devices and enables basic editing right on the Web. Programmers will be able to add features to it via its open application programming interface (API).

OwnCloud is going to become an easy to run and use personal, private cloud thanks to a new commercial company that's going to take ownCloud from interesting open-source project to end-user friendly program. This new company will be headed by former SUSE/Novell executive Markus Rex. Rex, who I've known for years and is both a business and technology wizard, will serve as both CEO and CTO. Frank Karlitschek, founder of the ownCloud project, will be staying.

To make this happen, this popular--350,000 users-program's commercial side is being funded by Boston-based General Catalyst, a high-tech. venture capital firm. In the past, General Catalyst has helped fund such companies as online travel company Kayak and online video platform leader Brightcove.

General Catalyst came on board, said John Simon, Managing Director at General Catalyst in a statement, because, "With the explosion of unstructured data in the enterprise and increasingly mobile (and insecure) ways to access it, many companies have been forced to lock down their data--sometimes forcing employees to find less than secure means of access, or, if security is too restrictive, risk having all that unavailable When we saw the ease-of-use, security and flexibility of ownCloud, we were sold."

"In a cloud-oriented world, ownCloud is the only tool based on a ubiquitous open-source platform," said Rex, in a statement. "This differentiator enables businesses complete, transparent, compliant control over their data and data storage costs, while also allowing employees simple and easy data access from anywhere."

As a Linux geek, I already liked ownCloud. At the company releases mass-market ownCloud products and service in 2012, I think many of you are going to like it as well. I'm really looking forward to seeing where this program goes from here.

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Topics: Software, CXO, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Storage

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  • RE: OwnCloud: An open-source cloud to call your own

    Another, great open source project.
    Best of times to come.
  • It's not about a single cloud. It's about managing many.

    I think many of these "me too" products miss the point. It is not about having your own cloud or storing the files on other servers. It is about managing the corporate data sprawl across many Cloud Services. We're using the SMEStorage cloud appliance in our own offices to do this in which it manages access to FTPS, SharePoint, Google Docs and internal CIFS shares and enables us to set our own controls across all our Data services. What prompted me to write is that they don't get much coverage yet they offer some true innovation.
    • I'd agree ... but also see the point of ownCloud

      @ilurvemusic ... From an enterprise/SMB perspective, many businesses already have the storage aspect of a cloud ... what they lack is the ease of access and ease of updating/sync'ing the data between devices and the cloud. E.g., having a sales team equipped with tablets that auto-sync to the enterprise cloud's stored copy of a new sales sheet. That needs to be so simple to do that it requires no effort beyond uploading the new sales sheet and <presto!> everyone gets it (or has access to it).

      But from a personal standpoint, lots of folks now realize that it's convenient to have access to their data, calendars, contacts, photos, music, etc. from outside the home -- by themselves while at work or at a vacation home, or by family living elsewhere. For them, ownCloud seems like a terrific product.

      Then again ... Apple's dirt-cheap OSX Server provides much of this right out of the box with an incredibly simple setup/management interface. And it's been doing this for years. It's just a lot cheaper now, with Lion Server ... and you get access to Apple support (for a while, anyway).
  • Hey SJ

    First off, Merry Christmas! I just wanted to say thanks for posting meaningful articles that help bring these types of products to our attention. ZDnet has really been on a downward slide over the last couple of years but it is posts like this that still keep me interested.
  • RE: OwnCloud: An open-source cloud to call your own

    Never heard of OwnCloud before today. But if it'll work on Debian, I think I'll give it a try.
  • Is it just me...

    ..or does it seem like everyone who sees a server product that just happens to have a web-based interface insists on somehow calling it a "cloud"?
    • RE: OwnCloud: An open-source cloud to call your own

      What is a cloud then?
  • No app for OwnCloud?

    I am little concerned that this appears to be a browser-only program. The appeal of Dropbox for me is that it is an app for PC/tablet/phone as well as a browser-based program.
    • RE: OwnCloud: An open-source cloud to call your own

      No app, maybe in the future.
  • Great!

    Awesome post. Here???s a tool that lets you build your cloud database apps without coding http://www.caspio.com/