Personal Clouds

As part of my quest to wean myself from Gmail, I discovered that I needed a Personal Cloud. The Great Marketing Machine has invented yet another buzzword.

Additional research indicated that unlike IMAP, there did not seem to be simple WebDAV / "personal cloud" solutions. Everything I found was very large and complex with many fragile dependencies that involved several kitchen sinks.

An interesting contender was ownCloud:

ownCloud is a self-hosted file sync and share server. It provides access to your data through a web interface, sync clients or WebDAV while providing a platform to view, sync and share across devices easily—all under your control. ownCloud’s open architecture is extensible via a simple but powerful API for applications and plugins and it works with any storage.

I had a spare old derelict Windows XP machine sitting in the corner of my basement. Let's spin up an instance of ownCloud and kick the tires! Oops, sorry. No Windows support. IIS and SQLServer were evil. But wait, I run WampServer and Cygwin. It's not really Windows... So using the installer was a non-starter. Okay, I will do a manual hack by fiddling the config file contents to point to my fully approved MySQL database. But they were adamant. They had a hate-on for Windows and refused to execute. It seemed futile to try to open up the system and hack out whatever bad Windows memories it contained. So I crossed it off the list of suitable solutions.

Next up was to re-examine an old acquaintance. A quick check of Funambol indicated that it had gone the Enterprise route since I last tinkered with it. It was too complex then. My guess is that it will have grown as it matured - don't we all? So it quickly became a non starter as well.

To add to the confusion, multiple purveyors of storage devices have re-labeled their external hard drive products as "personal clouds". They have the storage part covered, but seemed to be missing the all important "services" part. Kind of like an automobile without the engine?

The Personal Cloud solution was quickly getting bigger than my problem. My problem was very simple: sync my Address Book & Calendar. Time to step back, do some navel gazing and rethink my approach...