You'd have to be living under a rock to not be using -- or at least know about -- cloud storage, sync and collaboration tools such as Dropbox or Box. But they're built on proprietary, closed technology stacks that require you to stash your files in their data centers and their cloud. Enter ownCloud, an open source project designed to enable cloud service partners to host a cloud sync solution wherever it's needed and meet any and all regulatory compliance needs, as the company and its technology ramp up for real enterprise applications.

Now, let's back up. I'm sure to some readers, ownCloud will be nothing new. In its open source form, ownCloud has been downloaded more than 350,000 times, and an active community has formed around it in the two years since it launched.

But what ownCloud Inc., the business, announced last week was the formation of a commercial enterprise around the project. Much like other open source-based businesses, ownCloud's model revolves around value-adds: the software remains free as ever, but ownCloud plans to offer "advanced support and services, as well as commercial-friendly routes to partnerships," according to an official blog entry.

And by partnerships, yes, the company means reseller and cloud integrator partnerships, judging from ownCloud's website. Novell SUSE veteran Markus Rex will be helming ownCloud's enterprise play, with ownCloud project founder Frank Karlitschek serving as project leader and guiding the overall progress of the product as it ramps up toward its first officially supported release. Also, apparently ownCloud has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Boston-based VC General Catalyst.

I'm more than intrigued, not so much by the value proposition -- Trend Micro SafeSync offers a similar, compliance-friendly approach to cloud file collaboration, if that's really what you're after. But a completely open source solution that's available to the channel is well worth keeping an eye on, if only if it keeps the aforementioned big guns of this market segment from resting on their laurels.

There's definitely a ton of chatter around the concept of an open cloud. TalkinCloud continues to monitor closely, so stay tuned for more.