ownCloud for SharePoint—File Sync and Sharing When You’re NOT Ready to Move to the Cloud…

Bonnie Surma November 11, 2014 0

ownCloudlogoSharePoint is a robust foundation for content management and collaboration. Unfortunately, with its extensive capabilities come complexities and a user experience that makes ad-hoc file sharing painful for users. This is particularly true for organizations who want to share files outside of their internal network or access those files with mobile devices. As a result, legions of SharePoint users turn outside the system to products like Dropbox, opening the organization to considerable risk and a lack of IT visibility and control.

I’m happy to share a recent product launch – ownCloud 7 Enterprise Edition.  Now, you can leave SharePoint files where they belong, meet your users’ requirements, and maintain control over file syncing and sharing.   Yes, on-premises.  And, yes, with 2010.

Based on the popular ownCloud open source file sync and share community project (see ownCloud.org), ownCloud Inc. (www.owncloud.com) was founded in 2011 to give corporate IT greater control of their data and files — combining greater flexibility, openness and extensibility. The company headquarters are in Lexington, Mass., with European headquarters in Nuremberg, Germany.  Their open source community claims about 1.6 million users and has well over 250 active developers contributing to the code. They have a great presence in Europe where privacy is of utmost concern, and they are now moving more aggressively into the North America market, targeting security-conscious enterprises with the need to access, share, and sync files in an IT-controlled manner.

It became quite clear that support for SharePoint – especially on-premises SharePoint – was going to be a primary focus for their potential end users.  While we are all aware of Microsoft’s thrust into the cloud and especially driving usage of Office 365 and OneDrive for Business, the fact remains that most of our files are going to remain on-premises, behind a firewall.  Maybe not all of our files will but certainly ones with confidential information.  So, while everyone is enamored by the cloud, the fact remains and will continue to remain (at least through 2020), that most of our “stuff” will live on-premises:

ownCloud1        (Source: IDC Digital Universe Study (sponsored by EMC), December 2012)

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be exploring cloud options, and certainly with Office 365 Microsoft has gotten its “Mojo” back.  But for IT departments, making the move is going to require a huge financial and time commitment, and it will happen slowly.  What to do in the meantime?  How do we give users “cloud” functionality while we keep everything on-premises?  How can we offer OneDrive-like functionality and usability if we’re not quite ready to move from 2010? Or even 2007!

That’s why I’m intrigued with ownCloud—by leveraging ownCloud Enterprise Edition users can access and sync all of their SharePoint content from anywhere.

  • Provide access to SharePoint files ANYWHERE
  • Leave files in SharePoint where they remain subject to SharePoint governance policies
  • Maintain IT control and visibility without scarifying user experienceownCloud2

ownCloud administrators connect SharePoint document libraries in the ownCloud administrator panel, and then the SharePoint files appear in ownCloud user accounts as folders and file trees.   SharePoint users have the “cloud” experience with the risks inherent in moving to the cloud.  From ownCloud’s marketing materials:

The SharePoint plugin application provides ownCloud Enterprise Edition subscribers a mechanism for connecting ownCloud users to their SharePoint document libraries. The administrator configures the app in the ownCloud administration page. The app can connect to one or more instances, using the SharePoint web services interface. ownCloud treats SharePoint as an external storage location, translating ownCloud commands into SharePoint commands, and enabling mobile, web and sync client access. 

  • Everywhere access. Users have access to their SharePoint document libraries by browsing through their SharePoint file tree inside of the ownCloud web and mobile interfaces. They can even sync files to their desktop with the ownCloud Desktop Client.
  • Flexible control. Administrators have access to flexible, SAML and AD friendly, authentication and can establish a global, custom or user driven credential model.
  • Rapid implementation. Plug-in installation and configuration can take less than five minutes. Automated synchronization. Updated files are bi-directionally synced automatically. Optionally, users may be allowed to connect their own SharePoint libraries.
  • Consistent security. While SharePoint documents are access via ownCloud, SharePoint access control lists (ACLs) are respected. For example, users with read only access can only read a file from SharePoint – but not update it in SharePoint.

This all requires ownCloud 7 Enterprise Edition which you can download here.  The ownCloud SharePoint plugin works with SharePoint 2007, 2010 or 2013.  The plugin uses the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and webDAV for the uploads and downloads to talk to SharePoint servers. The supported authentication methods are: 

  • Basic Auth
  • NTLM (Recommended)

I would check it out – there’s a free trial version located here: www.owncloud.com/download.  They’re also having an interactive webinar on November 19, “What’s New in ownCloud 7,” hosted by Frank Karlitschek, a co-founder and CTO of ownCloud and Matt Richards, ownCloud’s VP of Products – you can register here .  If you want your users to have an easy but safe file sync and share solution for SharePoint – it would be worth you tuning in!

 Community broadcast sponsored by ownCloud.

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