ownCloud 8.1 Extends Beyond File Sync and Share

The Need to Share

The wide spread proliferation of public file sync and share services like Dropbox, Box and various others, make it very easy to share almost any type of file regardless of its size, with anyone you want. And while that is great for sharing those family photos and videos with friends and family on the other side of the country, it’s not such a good idea when it comes to sharing company files.

Businesses today are faced with numerous laws and government regulations that require them to manage, control and track access to their data. There is also the need for businesses to protect their intellectual property from being accessed or acquired by unauthorized personnel.

Workers started using public file sync and share type services because they often needed to share files for collaboration or other purposes, with workers in remote offices and/or branch offices (ROBO), and sometimes with customers. These workers were forced to seek out their own solutions because organizations frequently lacked a simple and comprehensive system that would allow them to easily share files across the enterprise. Users taking matters into their own hands is called “Shadow IT” and as Storage Switzerland discussed in its recent article “What is Shadow IT? – and why you should care” the ramifications of it can be disastrous for the organization.

Security Is Key

While the various public file sync and share services make it a simple matter to share files, they often have limited security or lack the necessary tools to properly control access to the files as well as track who is actually accessing and downloading them.

Files that workers copy to these services are beyond the reach and control of IT, which has the primary responsibility to meet security, governance and compliance requirements imposed by laws and government regulations.

IT needs a robust file sync and share solution that is as simple to use as any of the public services but that also gives IT strong security with the means to control access to the files. For example, they need to control where files are downloaded and need the ability to track who is accessing and downloading these files.

ownCloud Provides Strong Solution

ownCloud entered the marketplace with a solution that provided IT with a simple to deploy and use file sync and share service combined with critical security features to properly control, manage and protect an organization’s valuable data. As we detailed in a previous article on ownCloud 8, their product goes well beyond just file and sync.

It is an on-site solution that puts all data back in the control of IT by providing tight security and control for selective access to corporate data by leveraging in-house and cloud storage resources.

There are several different versions of ownCloud to meet the needs of a wide audience. The current versions are open source or subscription based:

  • ownCloud Community – No support other than through the open source community
  • ownCloud Standard Subscription with 8 x 5 ownCloud support
  • ownCloud Enterprise Subscription with 12 x 5 ownCloud support for ownCloud server, ownCloud, Enterprise Apps, Commercial License, ownCloud mobile apps and ownBrander self-service
  • ownCloud Custom Subscription with Enterprise level support with up to 24×7 support, accelerated or new integrations, branding services, custom features and other consulting services

The 8.1 release of ownCloud adds Universal File Access (UFA). Most file sync and share solutions require that the user move data into their repository or directory structure. ownCloud’s UFA capability allows the data to continue to reside where it is but allows the users to still access it from any location, any device. Data sources can include the company’s current file server technology, various NAS systems or even an application like SharePoint.

The new release also provides support for native Android, iOS devices as well as Windows, Mac and Linux. It also provides what the company calls “Encryption 2.0”, which is a flexible, modular encryption that gives IT the ability to choose the key manager as well as the ability to change an existing key manager.

Some of the additional enhancements are:

  • Significant improvements in performance and scalability with up to 4X improvements in upload and download speeds
  • Exponentially faster, copy folder speed
  • Improved handling of massive parallel requests
  • Addition of mount options for external storage
  • An updated UI that simplifies configuration
  • Support for 50% more users per ownCloud server

The Enterprise version also includes support for SharePoint and network drives.

StorageSwiss Take

ownCloud has significantly improved on the earlier version and offers businesses a way to consolidate user file data into a single, logical repository. The open-source architecture makes it possible to integrate ownCloud tightly with numerous IT tools, user applications and various IT back ends. Businesses looking for a truly secure alternative to public file sync and share services may find what they need in ownCloud 8.1.

Joseph is a Lead Analyst with Storage Switzerland and an IT veteran with over 35 years of experience in the high tech industries. He has held senior technical positions with several major OEMs, VARs, and System Integrators, providing them with technical pre and post- sales support for a wide variety of data protection solutions. He also designed, implemented and supported backup, recovery and encryption solutions in addition to providing Disaster Recovery planning, testing and data loss risk assessments in distributed computing environments on UNIX and Windows platforms.

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