The open-source ownCloud project is releasing a new beta today, providing users with enhanced features that aim to make it easier and more secure to share files and content in the cloud. The ownCloud technology enables cloud file storage, sharing and synchronization capabilities.
Among the new features in the ownCloud 7 community beta release is the ability to do server-to-server sharing. The ownCloud technology, which is deployed on an organization's own server, previously did not easily enable server-to-server sharing.
"The server-to-server sharing is using WebDAV directly between servers," Frank Karlitschek, CTO and co-founder of ownCloud, told eWEEK. "Authentication works via special access sharing keys that are exchanged when a user initiates the sharing."
Going a step further, there is now the ability to leverage an OpenStack Swift storage back end to share and store files. A server instance can be federated and clustered using the new Swift object store back-end support in ownCloud 7, Karlitschek explained. As such, ownCloud can run on top of federated object stores.
"Different ownCloud servers or instances or clusters can then be connected with the new server-to-server sharing feature," he said. "So federation can happen on an object store and admin level and on a user sharing level."
The move to support Swift as a back end for ownCloud represents a shift from prior releases of the technology. In the past, Karlitschek said, it was possible to mount object store buckets as specific folders into an ownCloud server. In that scenario, some local storage was always needed to hold the user home directories, file versions, trashbin and other common tools.
"In ownCloud 7, everything can be located in an object store without the need for local storage at all," he said. "Additionally, the performance is significantly better because the object stores are accessed as objects and not as filesystems."
Among the other new features that debuted in the ownCloud Community 7 beta is a new files view that provides improved file sorting capabilities. The new files view also includes what is known as "Lazy Loading Files," which are files that load as the user scrolls down a page.
There is now also a storage location report feature that shows users where files are stored, which could include Swift as well as Amazon S3 and Google Drive, among other locations. User visibility into file updates also improves in ownCloud 7 with an enhanced file notification system that notifies users via email if a file is changed, shared or deleted. Going a step further, ownCloud 7 has a new SMTP configuration wizard that aims to make it easier for ownCloud to get connected to an email server.
The new beta release of ownCloud 7 is for the open-source community version of the product, and Karlitschek expects it to be generally available by July. There is also a commercial enterprise version of ownCloud that is backed by ownCloud Inc., Karlitschek's company that provides commercial support and services. In March of this year, ownCloud announced a $6.3 million round of funding, bringing total funding for the company to $10.1 million.
The ownCloud Enterprise 6 release officially debuted on March 11 and will be updated after the ownCloud Community 7 release becomes available. Karlitschek said that ownCloud Enterprise 7 will likely debut in mid-September, providing some additional capabilities.
"We'll be hardening and testing the code, adding more documentation, more integrations and improved device management, as well as some added security features," Karlitschek said.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.