Build your own open-source cloud with ownCloud 4

So you like the idea of cloud-computing, but you don't trust any of the cloud vendors? With ownCloud 4 you can build your own.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor


Like clouds, but don't trust cloud vendors? Roll your own with ownCloud.

Big businesses use cloud services. You and I use cloud storage services like DropBox, Google Drive, and Amazon Cloud Drive every day. But, with each you have to trust your data on other people's systems. With ownCloud, an open source file sync and share project, which began as a KDE project, you can keep your data on your servers and decide what other public cloud services you want to integrate into your personal cloud.

OwnCloud is primarily as an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud service. With it you can store your files, folders, contacts, photo galleries, calendars and more on a server of your choosing. You can then access that storage from your mobile device, your desktop, or a Web browser. You can also sync your date with local devices and share your data either with the world at large or specific approved users.

With the new, just released version, you also now get file versioning, which allows you to "rollback" to previous versions; file-level encryption, Web-based drag and drop file management, and a built-in Open Document Format (ODF) preview.

OwnCloud is built on top of a MySQL database. The program itselfis written in PHP and JavaScript. It now has a new application programming interface (API). This should make it easier to build applications on top of ownCloud's built-in capabilities.

In addition, ownCloud 4 includes an "experimental" feature for mounting of external file systems--including Dropbox, FTP and Google Drive--enabling users to have all their file sync and share tools in a single ownCloud interface.

OwnCloud can now also be used in a business network environment. It now includes system logging and enables administrators to manage users and groups from Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) or Active Directory (AD).

"Version 3 represented a great technology leap forward. As our community continues to grow, Version 4 has benefited greatly, and the result is the most innovative and flexible sync and share platform to date," said Frank Karlitschek, founder of ownCloud in a statement. "The latest ownCloud offers features businesses and service providers have been asking for, and adds new features and applications that meet the needs of the community and will greatly enhance our upcoming commercial editions."

I've downloaded ownCloud for my CentOS 6 and openSUSE 12.1 servers and I like what I've seen so far. No, it's not as easy as Dropbox nor as powerful as the Amazon Cloud, but it lets me run my own file sync and share services on my own hardware and storage, and use public hosting and storage offerings. I like it. OwnCloud will also run on Windows 7 or Server 2008.

Sure, I could have built something like this myself. Heck I have built things like this over the years, but ownCloud brings everything I need in one place so that I can run my own cloud my own way. And, that my friends, I find a very attractive option indeed. As I continue to work on it, I'll let you know what I find. For now, I can recommend anyone who's Linux savvy and wants their own customized cloud service to give it a try.

Or, if you like the idea, but don't have the expertise, ownCloud offers commercial support options.

Related Stories:

Hands on with Google Drive (Review)

Amazon tries to catch up in personal cloud storage and falls further behind

How to calculate what to move to the Windows Azure cloud

Editorial standards