ownCloud Enables True Universal File Access via Cloud Service

ownCloud uses its own server-to-server sharing capability to bypass all the Web interfaces that trip up seamless file sharing across silos.

Anybody who says there's nothing new under the sun--or clouds--ought to read this story.

Cloud storage and collaboration service provider ownCloud (yes, with a lower-case "o") has found a way to sync up files from all over the place--from the cloud, to enterprise silos, to personal connected storage devices, to other disparate places--and make them easily available and sharable using its own cloud (hence, ownCloud) common file access layer.

On Nov. 11, the Lexington, Mass.-based startup released a new version of its frontline service, ownCloud 7 Enterprise Edition. This is really a true hybrid-type storage service in that it can access data and files in both private and public clouds--even files that may be sitting in a connected desktop storage device and aren't in a cloud.

Using ownCloud 7, line-of-business staff members can access appropriate company files on any device, anytime, from anywhere, and all completely managed and controlled by IT--yet still keep unstructured data where it resides. ownCloud 7 also enables close management of proprietary information and business risk while using an enterprise's existing data management, security and governance tools and processes. IT managers will enjoy that.

Most Cloud Storage Doesn't Offer It All

Most centrally controlled file storage and sharing services focus on either private or public cloud storage. More of them now offer both, but there aren't many who offer both of those options plus the storage capacity in mobile and desktop PCs. ownCloud also enables syncing files to desktops or mobile apps, making them available offline.

"Universal file access, in brief, is an end user having access to the files they need in the enterprise, from any device at any time, with the appropriate IT controls in place so all of that conforms to policy," Matt Richards, ownCloudVice President of Products, told eWEEK. "That sounds very basic, but if you go one level deeper, files live in Windows network drive, in SharePoint, in Jive--they live in a bunch of other places. And getting those files into someone's hands has typically been a series of siloed access points.

"For SharePoint, you use SharePoint Web Interface. For Windows Network Drive, you use Windows Explorer or your MAC finder; for Jive you have a different Web interface. The concept here is: 'Hey, I'm the user! I'm on the train or at the airport--I just need to share a file with a co-worker for whatever reason, at whatever time, with the device I'm on. Just like I do with Dropbox, but I have to do this in a complex, heterogeneous world," Richards said.

ownCloud uses its own server-to-server sharing capability to bypass all the Web interfaces noted above, Richards said. This enables users on one ownCloud installation to share files with users on a different ownCloud installation without using shared links. Both users retain the privacy and control of a private ownCloud, and gain the flexibility and ease of use of a public cloud, Richards said.

Mobility Makes Data Sprawl Even Worse

"Every organization has an issue with data sprawl, and mobility just makes it worse," said Terri McClure, senior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group. "The special sauce is giving employees access to all their data from a single point, no matter what device they use, to avoid even more redundancy and still keep IT in control."

Organizations have spent years building complex, heterogeneous IT environments to support their business processes, CEO Markus Rex said. "And now, with the introduction of public clouds and consumer-grade file sync and share apps, it just gets more complex–a real unstructured data mess ... as well as the potential for serious security and privacy disasters," Rex said.

"This is why we designed ownCloud--to fix all of this."

New universal file access features in v7 include native SharePoint and Windows Network Drive integration and the ability to point to object stores as primary storage, Richards said.

ownCloud 7 Community Edition, launched in July, added support for OpenStack Object Storage (Swift). The Enterprise Edition adds support for Amazon's S3 object store as primary storage for ownCloud. As a result, admins can choose the best option for their specific need: local storage, network filesystem mounts, Swift object stores, or even Amazon S3 compatible cloud and on premises storage.


ownCloud 7 Enterprise Edition is available now. Pricing for ownCloud Enterprise Edition begins at a yearly subscription of $9,000 for 50 users. For those interested in testing ownCloud, or conducting a proof of concept, ownCloud 7 Enterprise Edition is available as a virtual appliance for vSphere, VMware Workstation and KVM, Richards said.

Go here for more information.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...