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ownCloud Owns "Little Big Data"

Interview with CTO Frank Karlitschek

Among the things I wasn't able to do this week was attend the Red Hat Summit in San Francisco. Bummer. But I was able to conduct a lot of interviews from my office in Illinois.

I write about the emergent Big Three - Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things - all of which are part of our unified view of IT today. As I prepare for the upcoming @cloudexpo @bigdataexpo @thingsexpo industry celebration in New York June 10-12, I'll talk to a lot of people about their visions plans, and viewpoints.

There's a lot of Open Source percolating within this universe as well, of course, and Red Hat is one of the prime examples of leveraging an open-source product into a real business, and one which lends itself nicely to the Big Three as well.

ownCloud Progresses
My first interview was with Frank Karlitschek (pictured), who is CTO, Community Leader, and CTO of ownCloud. I first met Frank at a Linux event in San Diego a couple of years ago. I saw Linus Torvalds wandering around this event, although for some reason he didn't seem to recognize me.

However, my conversation with Frank was one of the highlights of my day. ownCloud was just barely starting out then, and Frank was very frank with me about the company's intended focus and the big challenges it faced.

Now the company seems to have some strong legs and a nice focus on developing cloud-storage solutions from within enterprise IT's datacenters. As some have put it, in an age of the NSA and Edward Snowden's revelations, enterprises need to feel much more secure about their storage than ever before.

All that said, let's hear what Frank has to say...

Roger: How have things played out for the company recently? What sort of customers are you attracting?

Frank: Lots of changes actually. We recently released ownCloud Enterprise 6, and closed our A round of funding. Starting with ownCloud 6 Community Edition we've seen a maturity of product and a corresponding rise of interest by customers - including some of the world's top universities, financial institutions and even CERN. In fact, Q4 2013 sales were higher than the total of company sales since the beginning!

Roger: I have a theory that all the world is hybrid cloud, or will be soon. How strongly do you agree/disagree with this?

Frank: Could not agree more strongly. In fact, that is exactly the secret sauce to our success. There is no one of note who can offer a fully private cloud for sync and share. The cloud providers sell storage, so the private cloud part does them no good - not to mention, their technology isn't built to deliver it.

We, on the other hand, are built for flexibility. We install directly on company servers, integrate into existing infrastructure and extend via open APIs to be able to do things we haven't even thought of yet. Use your own storage, or use cloud storage of your choice - or both.

Roger: How key is the role of Big Data in developing your solutions? How important is the term Big Data to you?

Frank: If Big Data means collecting massive amounts of structured data and using it for complex analysis, then ownCloud is less Big Data then centralized cloud services. The reason is the ownCloud is about distributed and self-hosted cloud servers so the data is less "big" then Box, Dropbox or Google.

On the other hand, by centralizing a company's unstructured data, the analysis of this data and connections between the data in the enterprise could be a bit easier, because the enterprise has full access to all the data and can do optimized analysis for the questions they really care about. So maybe we are Little Big Data - or Big Little Data!

Roger: Little Big Data - starring Dustin Hoffman and Brent Spiner, and coming to a screen or torrent near you.

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More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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