September 19, 2014

Open Source OwnCloud Seeks to Combine Public, Private and Hybrid Clouds

frank-karlitschek-owncloudOver the past two years IT managers at the public research universities in Germany’s most populous state, Northrhine-Westfalia, have been researching how to build a private inter-university cloud. It will provide about 6 Petabytes of free-to-use storage to 500,000 affiliates of more than 30 public research and applied science universities in the region, Raimund Vogl, director of IT at Münster University wrote on Linux.com.

To accomplish this, they sought a partnership with OwnCloud, the open source file sync and share software, to provide access to the universities' own scale-out storage platform. In addition to meeting all of their technical requirements, ownCloud's open source approach led them to trust that it was a secure and flexible platform, Vogl said.

“With proprietary software you can never be sure if there are any back doors or other security problems with the software,” Frank Karlitschek, co-founder and CTO of OwnCloud, wrote recently on Linux.com. “Open source is the only option for file storage that is really safe and secure.”

The same open source approach will lead OwnCloud to complete its next vision of providing an enterprise cloud platform that can combine public, private and hybrid clouds into one.

Karlitschek will lead a keynote panel on this topic next month at LinuxCon and CloudOpen Europe in Dusseldorf, Germany. Here he explains what it means to combine all of those cloud types into one, how it's done, what it means for the future of the open cloud, and what he plans to discuss in his keynote.

Linux.com: What does it mean to have a private, public, and hybrid cloud all in one?

Frank Karlitschek: Well, a Hybrid cloud is by definition the combination of public and private clouds, so that solves one piece – and it’s a very important piece too. A hybrid cloud gives organizations – and individuals, but let’s try to stick with businesses here – the ability to choose the right deployment for their data. They can choose a private cloud for their sensitive data and maybe port less sensitive data to public cloud for flexibility, ease – and speed -- of deployment, and even cost.

Private clouds are obviously the most secure and private and, by their nature, insular. Imagine though if you could keep all the good things about private clouds – control, privacy, governance – but make sharing as flexible as a public cloud. It is possible for instance, for two universities to “link” their private clouds so that researchers can share freely among two individual private clouds. Or a hospital internist can link his practice’s cloud to the hospital.

This is what I mean by turning private clouds into public clouds.

How is that even possible?

It’s a matter of, again, connecting these private clouds – not the entire cloud mind you – just the areas you want to share, together. To make it hybrid, you simply mount a public cloud storage like OpenStack or AWS.

Is this the future of the cloud – why or why not?

It’s A future certainly. The more you can make your organization’s private cloud look, feel and act like a public cloud – while again, maintaining IT’s control – the more employees will use it, and the more it can be used for.

How are you building it and what is the role of Linux and open source?

This is a great example why the open source development model and open standards are super important. All the protocols are discussed and implemented in the open. In the future we hope that these protocols are implemented in other software too so that we have as much interoperability as possible.

Can you give us a preview of your talk at CloudOpen Europe?

I’m going to talk a little about how we got here. How public clouds have created a huge privacy hole (Snowden, naked celebrities) and what businesses need to do, both on the infrastructure side and from the end user perspective, to protect themselves, their shareholders, employees and customers.

Register now for LinuxCon and CloudOpen Europe.