Getting cloudy has always been a mixed proposition in the IT world. Your users want the convenience of using a variety of devices and having their work accessible on all of those devices from wherever they are, whereas you still have to worry about data security, lost computers, federal regulation and the control that is necessary to ensure your organization's information technology resiliency. Add the fact that most cloud services like OneDrive, Google Drive or Dropbox -- let's face it, the ones that your users want -- are consumer-oriented services that lack the ability to be managed and controlled centrally, and you have a face-off for the ages.
OwnCloud purports to solve these problems with the notion of a private cloud, but not in the sense that a private cloud is simply a data center you own and control that has elements of automation including self-service delivery, redundancy and easy spin-ups and spin-downs of various offerings and services. Rather, OwnCloud is more like a Dropbox that is not under Dropbox's control or a Google Drive where Google is not reading all of the data; it is a service you, as either the administrator for a larger organization or you as the end user, control, where you can decide which items you want shared with others, which devices you can access that data on and what apps you want to access that data.
For the free community edition that operates under open-source licensing rules, you have two choices: Host the code yourself on hardware that you own, all the while retaining complete control over the files and folders you manage with the service, or find a hosting partner that will run the OwnCloud platform for you, with the implication that you then must store at least some of your data at that partner. OwnCloud makes available a list of these providers. All have different methods of pricing what they offer, how much storage comes with their various plans and so forth. The OwnCloud project does not appear to endorse or have an emphasized partnership with any of these providers.
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