OwnCloud Emerges As Open Source Competitor to Dropbox, Box.net

by Ostatic Staff - Dec. 21, 2011

If you've used popular cloud-based services for storing and sharing files, such as Dropbox and Box.net, you're probably familiar with how convenient they are, and how much they provide for free. In the past few days, though, an open source competitor to them, dubbed OwnCloud, has been getting a lot of attention. It's a Linux-based way to set up your own cloud computing instance, which means you don't have to have your files sitting on servers that you don't choose, governed by people you don't know.

According to the OwnCloud site:

"ownCloud has been an extremely successful open source project – generating more than 350,000 users. We thought it was time to take ownCloud to the next level – offering businesses a truly flexible, manageable, secure AND easy to use way to access, synch and back up their data."

As you may have guessed, OwnCloud is the latest open source-focused company that is going to have a commercial arm. OwnCloud's post continues:

"ownCloud will of course remain true to its open source roots – it could be no other way for a company run by Frank and me. What the commercial entity ownCloud will add is advanced support and services, as well as commercial friendly routes to partnerships. We are sitting at a very unique crossroads here. We have an opportunity to be part of a multi-billion dollar market with a tool that has already proven to be popular."

In this way, OwnCloud is walking down the same path that Dropbox and Box.net have, in offering premium services for fees to complement free services. It also sounds like OwnCloud will charge for support, a model that has worked famously for companies such as Red Hat.

OwnCloud's commercial arm Founder, CEO and CTO is Markus Rex, a former SUSE/Novell executive, and the company is also employing Frank Karlitschek, who founded the original OwnCloud project. 

“In a cloud-oriented world, ownCloud is the only tool based on a ubiquitous open source platform,” said Markus Rex, CEO and Founder, ownCloud, in a statement. “This differentiator enables businesses complete, transparent, compliant control over their data and data storage costs, while also allowing employees simple and easy data access from anywhere.”

According to ZDNet, OwnCloud is not as easy to set up yet as it could be, but that may change very soon. I happen to use Dropbox on Ubuntu, but I have had some problems with it. Linux users should keep an eye on OwnCloud as a viable alternative.