Friday, January 25, 2013

Control in the cloud

Startups & Venture Capital
Firm offers clients secure way to share their data
Taryn Plumb, Special to the Journal
OwnCloud, whose CEO is Markus Rex, aims to help companies build and control their own file-sharing system in the cloud.
W. Marc Bernsau
While the concept of the “cloud” is one of the hottest topics in IT right now, many companies still have misgivings about how safe and secure it is — and how much control they really have over their own data.
Lexington-based ownCloud Inc. aims to assuage such uncertainty by giving companies the ability to build their own file-sharing cloud, and maintain control over access to the files and where they are stored.
“The desire that companies have is to protect their sensitive data,” said ownCloud CEO Markus Rex, who noted that the cloud’s growing prevalence throughout commerce is prompting businesses to assess their options.
Started as a free open-source project in 2010 by Frank Karlitschek — with the community version still available through — the business editions were released last year under ownCloud.
OwnCloud’s software allows companies to securely sync and share documents, and to use whatever cloud storage service or server they want — whether it’s their own server, or a global cloud provider such as Amazon Web Services or Rackspace.
Files can be accessed from mobile devices as well as desktops, and data can be shared with specific users. Businesses can also connect their private ownCloud server to public cloud services to provide extra backup.
“It’s a new slant on sharing content,” said Michael Ficco, vice president of business development at Standing Cloud, an ownCloud hosting partner.
Services offered by ownCloud can be more realistic for smaller businesses as a cost-effective alternative to investing in hardware and manpower.
Rex said in 2012, there were more than 1 million downloads of ownCloud’s community, business and enterprise editions, and the commercial side now has more than 40 customers in a variety of industries, as well as 90 global partners.
The company has 36 employees, including four in Lexington and five at two locations in Germany. The others work from various locations throughout the U.S. and Europe.
The firm has raised $3.75 million from two rounds of investments. The most recent, a $2.5 million round led by General Catalyst Partners, was announced in late November.
Ultimately, Rex said the cloud is going to become more important in the future.
“It’s going to be totally seamlessly integrated into everything,” he said. “In two to three years, we’re not going to think about where stuff is, and how it gets from where it is to where it needs to be. Files will just show up when and where we need them. It’ll be anytime access, anywhere.”

Original story link here.

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