The battle for corporate cloud storage continues. OwnCloud, which positions itself as a business-focused, open-source alternative to Box and other file-sync-store-and-share services, released its community edition Thursday and updated its commercial version with faster sync speeds and more finely tuned file access controls.
The news comes just days after Box, which claims 14 million users of its corporate file share and sync service, announced Box Embed, a new tool to enable third-party SaaS providers to integrate Box with their own applications. These companies and others are all vying to combine secure storage to suit IT needs for compliance and safety with a drop-dead easy way for users to store, share and access files. After all, if it’s not easy, they won’t use it and all the security in the world won’t help.
OwnCloud’s claim to fame is that, unlike other contenders, it lets IT put files in its cloud of choice. And, companies can lock down their own OwnCloud software appliance in-house and integrate it with their own intrusion detection or other security tools.
The OwnCloud update lets IT mount external cloud storage from consumer-favorite Dropbox, Google(s goog), Amazon(s amzn) and decide whether those files can be accessed by all or a subset of users. And now file owners can set expiration dates on shared files and password-protect the URL to a shared link.
In the company blog announcing the update, OwnCloud CEO Markus Rex said companies now realize that:
to better control the data that employees are sending in and out of their enterprise, they need more than an iPad app and third-party storage. ownCloud provides companies the software they need to retain control while giving end users a user-friendly, device-independent way to get their job done.
Lots of sound and fury but how many paying customers?
This cloud storage space is white hot now but it’s far from clear how many of the millions of claimed users are paying for the privilege because most of the contenders offer a freemium service. Another player, Egnyte, which pitches a hybrid cloud solution, recently certified its platform to work with storage from IBM(s ibm), NetApp(s ntap), Netgear and Synology.
One big question is whether these cloud-storage specific vendors will be able to flourish given that industry giants — including Google, Microsoft(s msft), Apple(s aapl), offer cloud storage as a part of their far-larger portfolios.