The Business Part of Business

Owning Your Cloud: What Does That Mean?

This week I was discussing a new tool called “OwnCloud” with a client and Answer Guy Central working partner. He’s one of the smartest people I know, and our conversation started with me telling him I had come across a way to get past the security worries that many people have when it comes to using services like Dropbox.

I’m pretty clear that I don’t really think there are security concerns in most cloud services. Sure, you have to trust the companies you do business with, and you need to have your own security rules in place. But for most of us Dropbox does a “good enough” job, and you can fill in the blanks when you need to.

Nevertheless, if you like the idea of Dropbox, don’t want hard file storage limits, and want to control things all by yourself, on your own server, you have a problem. Or you did, I thought, until OwnCloud came along.

I got OwnCloud installed in under five minutes, and it works. For Real. In fact, I’ve set up a public folder on Answer Guy Central’s OwnCloud, if you want to check it out. Just click that link, and join us under the user name TAG-Answerguy-Anonymous. The password is TAG.

Here’s the problem with OwnCloud, though: It isn’t actually “in the cloud”.

Oh, sure: OwnCloud is remote, Internet-based storage and acts very much like Google Drive, Dropbox, and SkyDrive. Or seems to. But OwnCloud runs off a single computer; as my friend pointed out, if that computer is ever out of service or cut off from the Internet, OwnCloud is cut off, too.

One of the great things about “the cloud” is that your files aren’t stored in one place; like the Internet itself, when cloud servers are set up correctly they replicate your files for safety and redundancy, and maybe even split them up into multiple pieces scattered across multiple computers and locations for an added level of security. OwnCloud puts your stuff “in the cloud”, but … not completely. OwnCloud is truly your OWN cloud. ONE cloud. A cloud. Not THE cloud.

It’s all about control, trust, and how those issues come together in your mind.

I’m happy to cede some control to the folks whose products and services I use. For example, I understand the ramifications of taking Google up on their offer of 100 GB of “free” cloud storage. Nothing’s really free, right? And that’s true when you get free stuff from big companies, or small ones.

But when you do, you need to understand what you’re giving up control of, or you could find yourself with a big problem. Keeping all of that arranged is what influency is about.

By the way (speaking of new products and services): Chris Brogan just tipped me to something new from Twitter. And my advice? Twitter’s upcoming Medium is a very, very bad idea