OwnCloud puts data in IT’s cloud of choice

Everyone seems to love Dropbox, the cloud storage service that claims 50 million users. The problem with Dropbox is its consumer focus, which gives IT departments heartburn. That’s why the hunt is on for a “Dropbox of the enterprise” which would offer the security business customers want with a great interface so that end users will actually use it.
OwnCloud 2012, now available, takes direct aim at those IT pros — although not with a storage cloud of its own. Instead,  ownCloud software runs in customer data centers to provide an easy way to move data to — Amazon (s amzn), Google (s goog), Microsoft (s msft) — or other cloud storage service. The other half of the puzzle is it promises end users an easy (dare I say Dropbox-like?) experience and gives them access to their data from their PC or mobile device.
OwnCloud 2012 supports Linux, Windows and Mac desktops as well as iOS and Android mobile clients. (There is no support for Blackberry, Windows or Symbian mobile phones.)
IT can upload the data to and manage it in whatever cloud they prefer, said Markus Rex, CEO of the company and a former SVP of Novell’s SUSE Linux business unit. True to his open-source roots, ownCloud has been available as a free product — this is the first commercial release.
All data into and out of ownCloud can be secured with HTTPS and can be encrypted at the OS level. Finally,  companies can lock down their ownCloud software appliance or the server it runs on anyway they like and integrate it with whatever intrusion detector or other security tools they have in place, a spokesman said.
Rex acknowledged his company’s debt to Dropbox which sparked a spate of enterprise-focused competitors. “We’re mimicking the Dropbox user experience. They certainly created a market for something the world didn’t know it needed.   We want to have that user experience but also let IT departments leverage their own data center and security models,” he said.
The ownCloud Business Edition starts at $999 per year for up to 50 users while the Enterprise Edition starts at $15,000 per year for up to 250 users.