OwnCloud: Build your own or manage your public cloud storage services

If you want a cloud of your own, ownCloud makes it easier than ever to build a private cloud of your own and you can also use it to manage your use of public cloud storage services, such as Amazon S3, Box, and DropBox.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
The new ownCloud gives you private cloud storage and control over your use of the major public cloud storage services.

Want a do-it-youself private, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud? Want a way to unify all your corporate cloud storage services? Then ownCloud has new open-source software for both your business and personal use.

In the newly released version, ownCloud 4.50, the company claims that this release comes with "significantly faster upload, download and sync of files – even very large files -- a re-factored sharing engine, greater and more granular administrative control, and greater integration with popular business tools, ownCloud 2012 Business and ownCloud 2012 Enterprise give companies the security and control they need while providing end users the flexibility and ease of use they demand."

The key difference between ownCloud and such popular cloud storage serves as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box, which store your data at remote third-party data centers is that you get to pick where ownCloud stores your data. You can deploy it by itself on your own servers or you can seamlessly integrate it with other cloud-storage services such as the aforementioned services or others such as Amazon. S3 Thus, you can use ownCloud with its security, storage, monitoring and reporting tools to manage not only your own private cloud storage, but those from multiple other cloud storage services as well.

Specifically, "Administrators can now mount external cloud storage (Dropbox, Google, Swift, S3, etc.) and decide whether it is to be accessible by the entire user population, a group, or a specific user. Users can now do the same, providing the first ever file sync and share capability across multiple cloud services, using ownCloud as the single point of access." I don't know about you, but that alone sounds like a really handy feature to me. 

The program also comes with new additional new features, The start with sub-admins for groups. This gives administrators "the ability to assign a sub-administrator to a group to handle account management." The program also now boasts fast desktop syncing, which is said to "reduce server load and enhances the sync algorithm for a faster, quicker, better sync with far less load on the server." It also now includes more granular permissions so end users can determine who can do what with shared data. The new user-management back ends also enable you to authenticate against remote WebDAV, IMAP, Samba and FTP servers. You can also use ownCloud with LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) and AD (Active Directory). Finally, the program now comes with enhanced logging. This gives you a complete and auditable history for each file on the server. On the purely fun side, ownCloud also provides HTML5 compatible video streaming.

As before, ownCloud is offered under an AGPL (Affero General Public License) open-source program. AGPL is a version of the GPL designed for network server software.

OwnCloud is a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) program. Besides MySQL, you can also use SQLite or PostgreSQ for the database management system. The commercial versions of ownCloud, the  Business, Enterprise and Education Editions, can also use Oracle as the back-end database. These versions also includes a logging module for logging of file-related actions, logs, who accessed what, when and from where and dynamic user storage: With this, your users get the storage they need without any "one-size-fits-all storage."

“Companies world-wide are beginning to realize that in order to better control the data that employees are sending in and out of their enterprise, they need more than an iPad app and third-party storage,” said Markus Rex, ownCloud's CEO in a statement. “ownCloud provides companies the software they need to retain control while giving end users a user-friendly, device-independent way to get their job done.”

 Related Stories:

Editorial standards