Saturday, 12 October 2013

ownCloud - your in house cloud file service

As usual, a client of mine requires something out to of the ordinary - they love Dropbox and Drive, using them extensively at home, and now want something for themselves at work. The catch is - the work they do requires their data to be housed in Australia. Some legal requirement I gather for their funding. After searching through the archives in the mailing lists for SAGE-AU (www.sage-au.org.au) for wisdom and nuggets of gold I stumbled across ownCloud. Several of their members expressed an admiration for this software so I thought I'd check it out.

You can find out a lot more about ownCloud on their website - www.owncloud.org but here is a brief overview of my experiences using this application.

Firstly I installed it on a spare PC I had, after first putting Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on there. Installation was straightforward, securing it a bit less so - there's a bit of work to be done there but it's reasonably well documented and then I installed the application on my Windows 7 laptop. It all just worked and worked quite well. The application on my Windows 7 box works almost exactly like Drive/Dropbox - copy files into there and they sync up to my ownCloud server. They are then available from the web page - secured with SSL - and available anywhere. I've punched a hole through the firewall for testing purposes to get this available. My clients love it.

The configuration options are quite straightforward and although I did get rid of a lot of the helpful folder customisations, I can see why these would be useful to others.

In terms of load on the server it's been quite minimal so far. The PC is running quite happily, only a low end dual core box with 2GB of RAM and a 160GB hard disk drive.

The production box with be either a Dell PowerEdge T110 II or a HP N54L - depending on funding. Requirements are quite low and depending on the volume of data to be stored, either of these servers will do a great job. Cloud in the office for under a $1000!

If you have half an hour (that's all it took for me to get it going) check out ownCloud :-)

Friday, 4 October 2013

Goodbye Cisco SRP527 and hello... what?

Recently I learned the SRP527 was being End Of Life'd. This is a sad moment - we started using the Netgear DG834's to provide a low cost VPN solution between two sites, then graduated to the double the price Cisco and now I'm on the hunt again.

The issue we have is so many of our clients only need a single VPN tunnel between ADSL enabled sites. Cisco 800 series routers are too expensive and provide far more bang than the client usually needs or wants.

Currently we are investigating the Draytek range of routers. I've ordered two and I'll review them in my next post.

The SRP527's have been quite a reasonable unit for us. I've found that the wireless connectivity, particularly to Apple devices is a bit hit and miss, but it's generally provided us with a stable connection that has been 1Mb/s faster than other ADSL2+ devices I've used.

Bring on the next challenger!