The open source ownCloud project is moving fast to help enterprises displace proprietary cloud storage sharing technologies. The ownCloud project got commercial backing in December and is now out with a new release that paves the way for wider adoption.

OwnCloud’s offering is analogous in many ways to what Dropbox and Box provide in that it enables users to store and share files in the cloud. The key difference is that ownCloud is open source, enabling any user or enterprise to roll its own cloud storage service. In the new ownCloud 3.0 release, the technology now includes improved LDAP integration for corporate directory interactions. The system also supports Microsoft’s ActiveDirectory which is widely used in enterprise deployments.

The new ownCloud release includes an application store as well, which enables third-party developers to list integrations with the project. Markus Rex, CEO of ownCloud explained that over time the goal is to expand the application store to enable more extensibility as well as a possible revenue model for the company.

The ownCloud 3.0 release is currently available only as an open source release, although an enterprise product is currently planned for a March release date. Rex noted that to date there has been significant interest in the open source ownCloud project, and his company is currently debating whether it should also offer stand-alone support for the open source project.

Another key element for ownCloud that is still in development are mobile clients for iOS and Android. Rex stated that the plan is to provide mobile iOS and Android clients, although the exact details about licensing are currently unclear. Currently Windows, Mac and Linux clients are freely available.

While ownCloud is a software release, Rex added that discussions are progressing on partnerships with hardware vendors. He hinted that ownCloud will hardware related news at some point in 2012.

Beyond just building the technology for an enterprise release, ownCloud is enhancing its staffing to help support the enterprise build-out. The company has now officially added Holger Dryoff as vice president, sales and marketing. Dryoff was formerly a long-time SUSE Linux executive, and worked alongside his brother, SUSE co-founder Roland Dryoff.

“He was employee number one at SUSE and he helped to build that business up from scratch to a multi-million dollar business,” Rex said. “That is exactly what I’m hoping he’ll do for ownCloud.”

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