OwnCloud makes its enterprise file sync service even more enterprise-y

OwnCloud, which offers an open-source spin on the whole Dropbox for the enterprise chestnut, has added better encryption and other enterprise perks to its latest release. OwnCloud’s pitch is that it provides an easy Dropbox-like  user interface, but allows the enterprise to use whatever back-end cloud is most appropriate.
Whereas the previous release supported encryption of data in motion, the new release offers AES encryption at rest, regardless of what cloud data store the customer selects. Such encryption is becoming a bigger deal in the aftermath of the PRISM data security controversy. OwnCloud also promises a provisioning API that will tie into whatever data center automation tools a company already uses.
One customer, Sean Hill, executive director of the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility, went with OwnCloud because it wanted an open-source “easy-to-use Dropbox replacement” that could work with the open-source iRODS data grid and libraries that it already uses.  “The existing iRODS clients all need a bit of work and didn’t interface well with other services like S3, Dropbox and Google Drive,” Hill said via email. INCF also wanted to contract with the company to get support.OwnCloud claims nearly 1 million users worldwide but, as with most of its competitors, it offers a free version and it’s unclear how many pay. And the field is bustling with competitors. Companies including Box, Accellion and Egnyte all fighting for this business.
Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Kristine Kao said OwnCloud plays it down the middle, offering very easy UI for end users along with IT controls for corporate and the ability to keep putting its data in the company’s existing in-house data store or whatever cloud store it already uses. “Sometimes execs get upset when they’re told that they’re not using the data center they just spent so much money on for their storage. OwnCloud gives them that option, as well as the Amazon S3 option,” she said
Gartner analyst Gene Ruth said OwnCloud’s open-source roots and enterprise focus sets it apart, although Sparkleshare is another open-source competitor.
Indeed, it sometimes seems, based on the pitches I get, that there are as many file-sync-and-share (FSS) vendors as there are companies wanting to pay for that service, a characterization that Ruth acknowledged is certainly true in the enterprise space.
“It’s hard to keep up with them all — and they continue to fine-tune their offerings. We are seeing more vendors getting into the ‘trusted’ FSS space — companies like WatchDOX and Boole Server,” he said. “FSS is an interesting and fast-growing market that is closely aligned with the similarly interesting enterprise cloud storage market which is rapidly expanding.”
So stay tuned: Both demand for and supply of these cloud-based file-sync-and-store services is growing.
OwnCloud CEO Markus Rex will be talking about the state of the European cloud, in the wake of the PRISM data privacy  controversy,  at Structure: Europe in London September 18-19.

This story was updated at 11:03 a.m. PDT June 25 with additional analyst comments.