One of the consumerization of IT trends is the use of cloud storage. Most of us already have experience with iCloud and other personal cloud services like Dropbox, Google Docs, and SugarSync. The big advantage to all these solutions is their ubiquity – you can access documents and files in the office, at home, on the road using your iPhone or iPad, and pretty much anyplace else. Though they may raise data security and privacy concerns, personal or public clouds are extremely easy to use and always available.
The popularity of major cloud providers is causing a number of companies to offer easy to configure private cloud options that businesses can physically deploy on their own network or that can be hosted by the developer or a cloud service provider.
This week, ownCloud, which already offers an open source cloud storage and sync, announced new business and enterprise options that offer a great deal of flexibility.
ownCloud’s community edition has been around for a while and it is freely available to anyone that wants to use it. ownCloud is based on web standards, meaning that you can install it one pretty much any web server including on premise servers in your home or office as well as on a web hosting service that also hosts your personal/professional website or blog. ownCloud can also be hosted by a range of service partners.
In addition to basic file sync, ownCloud offers calendar and contact sync using the CalDAV and CardDAV standards – the same standards that Apple uses for similar features in OS X Server. It also offers a basic web-based media player and photo gallery feature and even a basic web-based text editor. ownCloud also offers API access for developers that want to expand its feature set.
The new business and enterprise editions of ownCloud take that core set of functionality by adding automatic cloud syncing for Windows and Linux as well as to mobile apps for iOS and Android. A Mac sync client isn’t available at this time, though with CalDAV and CardDAV access, you should be able to sync iCal and Address Book under Lion or Snow Leopard. More importantly, these editions build on ownCloud’s open source nature by adding maintenance updates and support contracts.
The business edition includes a yearly maintenance and support contract as well as an AGPL license and support for open source plug-ins. The enterprise edition includes those features as well as a management console to deploy and manage ownCloud throughout a company and licensing for multiple server instances. As with the community edition, you can host ownCloud on a server within your company or you can opt for using a service provider.