On Friday I was invited to attend the SURF edubloggers meetup. Every now and than SURF invited some of the Dutch edubloggers to inform them about new developments. This time the meeting was about the community cloud and specifically SURFdrive.
Many students and staff use cloud services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, box.net, and Microsoft OneDrive. They use this because it is very easy to use, they can access it via any device (also when off-campus), it is free and get more storage than their campus account.
The downside is that these cloud services are all offered by commercial companies that are based in the US. They not necessarly comply with our Dutch laws and university policies on privacy, security, legal protection, and ownership of data.
An alternative for the public cloud is the private cloud. But you don't have the economies of scale of the public cloud: higher data price and not as easy to share files with other users. Also, not all educational institutions have the expertise to set this up.
The community cloud is the best of both worlds. You have the federated login and good value for money of the public cloud and the privacy and security of the private cloud. The first community cloud services SURF is introducing is SURFdrive. This is an alternative for Dropbox.
With SURFdrive you can store your personal files in a safe and trusted cloud environment that is developed by SURF on behalf of the Dutch higher education and research. The data will always be stored inside the Netherlands and will never be offered or sold to third parties.
SURFdrive offers 100 GB of space to its users, for sharing and storing files documents, photo's, video's. University employees can login to SURFdrive with their institutional account, so no additional usernames and passwords are needed. You can also access your files anytime, anywhere from your smartphone, tablet or laptop.
There are sync tools available for Windows, Apple and Linux and mobile apps for iOS and Android (no Windows Phone).
SURFdrive complies to the "juridische normenkader cloud services" with regards to privacy, security and availability.
Students will be able to buy an account via SURFspot for around 18 euros per year.
SURFdrive is based on the software of ownCloud. OwnCloud is available as open-source and als paid services. There is a overbooking of 20* (on average they expect the user to use 5GB). SURF needs 30,000 users for break-even, but the expect to get above the 100,000 users. On Friday there were less than 2,000 users (116 TU Delft users), but most institutions haven't started with the marketing.
I think this is a very good development of SURF to start with community cloud services and SURFdrive is a very good first product. I use it since 1,5 week and works as smoothly as Dropbox. I would everyone advice to use it, certainly if you are aware of the risks of using public cloud software.