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 :-)