OwnCloud: An open-source cloud to call your own

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.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

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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