Creating a Private Cloud with Pydio

In my previous post I talked about FreeNAS, the open-source Network Attached Storage solution. We used it to create a large storage pool for our faculty, staff, and students. Creating a storage pool is just one part of the challenge. The other, more important part, is how do you make all of that storage easily available?

A couple of years ago a member of another IT group at the university talked about Pydio (known then as Ajaxplorer). I started investigating and found that it could do many of the things we wanted, but there were some issues with how it handled authentication in one of its features. Our university uses Active Directory for authentication, and although Pydio supported AD, one particular feature of Pydio that we wanted to use did not. This meant users would have to create a separate, non-AD password to use that feature.

Fortunately Pydio is also open-source, so I set out to modify it to work the way we needed it to. The changes I submitted have now been integrated into Pydio, so it works very well in our AD environment.

Pydio (Put Your Data In Orbit) is a private cloud storage solution that uses PHP and MySQL. From an admin perspective, it is very easy to get up and running. On the user side, it features a web-based drag-and-drop interface with multiple file and folder sharing options. Users can share with other internal users, setting per-user access permissions. They can also share with external users by URL (web link), optionally with a password.

There are free Pydio apps for iOS and Android, and it even supports the WebDAV protocol (used by various apps and allows for desktop network share folders).

Once we had Pydio up and running, we started rolling it out to small test groups to make sure it would work as expected. One of the first "signs of success" we had was that the users in the test groups were encouraging other users to start using Pydio. We were very happy that our users wanted to use Pydio.

Pydio is in active development, and continues to get better. The combination of Pydio and FreeNAS is a great, inexpensive way to create a private cloud storage solution.