Dan's Take

Controlling and Managing Universal File Access with ownCloud

Finding the right balance between access and security across firewalls can be tricky.

Matt Richard, VP of products for ownCloud, and his colleague, Diane Clary, director of product marketing, came by to discuss the data and file access problems enterprises face and a potential solution their company offers.

Providing local and remote access to corporate files has been both a logistics and security problem for quite some time. Enterprises have been seeking a way to allow access to their data files from anywhere, from just about any type of device and yet maintain control of that access and assure high levels of security.

The goal is giving IT administrators the tools to make sure that only authorized individuals have access to the data, regardless of whether it's stored behind the enterprise firewall in  SharePoint, VMware, Jive and so on; on a storage server; or on a server running Windows, Unix, Linux or some other OS.

Cloud Complications
Increasingly, they also want the same type of access control and security in a cloud-centric environment, including cloud storage environments such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Box, DropBox, Google Drive and a number of others.

To simplify what could be a complex logistical problem, these enterprises would like a uniform file access mechanism that would work on desktop systems running Windows, OS X or Linux, or on mobile devices running iOS or Android.

ownCloud believes that it has developed technology that would address both the universal access and the administrative control/security issues inherent providing "Universal File Access." Here's how the company describes its offerings:

ownCloud is enterprise file sync and share that is hosted in your datacenter, on your servers, using your storage. ownCloud provides Universal File Access through a single front-end to all of your disparate systems. Users can access company files on any device, anytime, from anywhere while IT can manage, control and audit file-sharing activity to ensure security and compliance measures are met.

The company is offering an on-premises solution so its customers will know their access solution lives behind their own firewall and they won't have to rely on cloud-based solutions.

Dan's Take: Plugging the Dike
An enterprise's staff, consultants and customers are in motion, but still want access to product and order information, as well as "how to" files designed to make product use easy. There are a number of cloud-oriented solutions that require enterprises to open up firewall ports to allow access. While this approach might be seen as an acceptable solution in some places, others will find it unacceptable to put a hole in their enterprise dike and potentially provide an access point that will be put to malicious use.

The ownCloud approach, which uses an on-premises file access mechanism and special desktop or mobile applications, appears to offer a good balance of access and control. Because the company offers an open source version of the technology, setting up and executing a pilot project to put the technology to a test would be simple. If the product works as advertised, a supported version of the technology is available.

If your company faces an access challenge like this, ownCloud could be the solution you need.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.

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