Cloud based storage and computer based communication

I recently wrote a paper for the fourths semester of the master study course “M. Sc. Business Informatics” focussing on storing data in the cloud and communicating with the computer.

Cloud computing has received much attention in the last years. The concept is not very new as its basic principle has been used by mainframes in the early 1960th already. The idea is as simple as it is reasonable: Why should one use complicated ways to copy data from one computer to another if you can have central systems to store your data, programs and services at one place once-for-all.

There are several services that are easy to use, do not cost anything monetarily and were widely disseminated in the last years. An example for storing data in the cloud is Dropbox and another for communicating with each other is Skype.

When facing the idea of the cloud within businesses, services like this have to be validated from another point of view. As companies have to face prize competition with hundred of others and have to preserve interests of their customers they often do not want to give away their data to someone they cannot trust as much as it would be reasonable.

Following this thought private hosted cloud software seems to be the only reliable solution. But commercial applications often are ineligible for small and medium sized businesses. Reasons for that are high costs and a range of functions that exceeds the required scope. Open source software could be taken as an alternative.

Checking out and evaluating a set of software to bring cloud computing to a small business has been objective of the paper I wrote. The result were not only a theoretical work including instructions on how to install and configure the software. In addition a virtual machine with the preconfigured and tested software was built and is published in this article that can be embedded in the system landscape of the reader’s company easily. Having the possibility to have a hands on experience after reading the text will give the reader a better impression to decide about the use of software like this. If someone has interest to read the complete paper, please ask (it’s German).

Feel free to test the virtual machine now, to test out what functionalitites can be established by the use of the following two software products:

  1. Cloud based storage (and calendar and contacts)
    ownCloud 7.0 Server Community Edition (http://www.owncloud.org)
  2. Computer based communication
    Ignite Realtime –  Openfire 3.9.3 (http://www.igniterealtime.org/projects/)

The software products were installed using their standard options on a debian wheezy host. Every admin account uses the password “kmucloud”. (KMU is the german abbrevation for small and medium-sized businesses). If you are interested to host the software for your company you should consider to use your own webserver for it or to use a virtual server. A good provider for this is the German company netcup GmbH.

Accounts
Debian: user=kmucloud, pw=kmucloud (sudoer user)
ownCloud: user=admin, pw=kmucloud
Openfire: user=admin, pw=kmucloud

Openfire has two test users installed:
manfred.muster with password “manfred”
erika.muster with password “erika”

ownCloud has a test user, too:
manfred.muster with password “manfred”

Download

Virtual Machine (English)
Virtual Machine (German)

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