ownCloud Targets Education Market
ownCloud Inc., the commercial entity behind the open source data-syncing platform of the same name, has officially set its sights on expanding operations into the education and academic markets with specially priced products for this niche. Here’s the scoop, including remarks from ownCloud VP Holger Dyroff on the company’s particular interest in the education channel.
ownCloud recently announced the availability of special educational pricing for schools, universities and research institutes interested in deploying its file-sharing and data-syncing solutions within their IT environments. Beginning immediately, the company will offer two new versions of its product, ownCloud School Edition and ownCloud Education Edition, which represent a discount from its standard Business and Enterprise platforms.
For now, the only difference between the School and Education editions, noted Holger Dyroff, ownCloud vice president of Sales and Marketing, are pricing and licensing terms. In the future, however, he said customers can expect the two products to diverge feature-wise, with the Education Edition offering more features appropriate for larger IT environments. The difference will mirror that between the ownCloud Business and Enterprise platforms, of which the latter is also tailored to the needs of larger organizations.
Open Source and Education
Asked why ownCloud decided to court the education market with this special pricing, Holger pointed to requests that had already been made by several universities, colleges, school districts and research institutes that had “asked about ownCloud because it would be very attractive to them for sharing material between teachers and students, and between staff.”
As an example of an educational customer already deploying ownCloud, he cited the University of Florida. He also promised that “we’re talking with at least five to 10 other” potential customers in the education market.
Geographically, ownCloud remains focused chiefly on operations in North America, central Europe and the United Kingdom, where most of its potential education customers will also be. But the company’s products retain a presence in Asia and Australia as well, which, Holger said, should not be ruled out as additional sources of interest in the new educational prices.
Will ownCloud’s foray into the education market pay off? From here, its prospects look good. After all, open source and educational institutions have gone hand-in-hand from the beginning. Unix and many of its spinoffs were developed at research universities, and Richard Stallman got his start — and his first taste of the biting injustice of closed-source code — at MIT.
There’s more to the story than these examples alone, but in general, educational environments — more so than their counterparts in the business world — have been traditionally inclined to explore open source solutions to their IT needs. ownCloud, as the company behind the most prominent file-sharing platform in the open source world, has a lot of potential to exploit as these organizations develop IT infrastructures equipped to handle the demands of users in the cloud-based future.