ownCloud is a software company based in Boston with a great growth from its inception, back in 2011.
ownCloud is widely known for keeping a file sync and share server of open architecture that is likely the most popular among members of the open source community, with more than 8 million business/community users and 500,000 market purchases.
Apart from providing users a total control over their data, it offers universal access to files that can be hosted almost in any external IT system through a single-user interface.
Users can access their data from anywhere and at any time without any privacy concerns.
User’s data ownership is guaranteed.
ownCloud, when going through a key moment for its final expansion, needed to add to its product range different mobile apps for today’s existing platforms and it was then when, encouraged by other successful company, they discovered Solid Gear.
It was the turning point to decide to go into the development of mobile apps with us.
It was not ownCloud first try, actually it had an unsuccessful experience previously with a much worse-than-expected outcome.
Provided that ownCloud is a file sync solution, the company was especially interested in relying on a highly qualified engineer team, not only with skills to develop native mobile apps – iOS y Android – but also with skills in integration technologies such as HTTP, sockets or REST.
Additionally, the team had also to comply with the highest standards for quality assurance.
Not in vane, the product is meant for official clients and for large organisations with very important demands in this matter.
On the other hand, the communication among the different teams remained as one of the main challenge to overcome in order to achieve a project positive development and to attain the objectives.
And it is even more relevant if we take into account that the ownCloud team is outsourced with members spread across the USA, Germany, Switzerland and Spain. IRC, Github or the videoconference tools have been commonly used in our everyday life since the beginning.
Apart from these distributed teams, one of the main singularities of ownCloud is worth mentioning, the work in an open source community.
As a team within ownCloud, we play an active role in and act as a driver to the work in an open source community, working all together as a united and cohesive team.
This is and has been very enriching for us and extremely challenging, though incredibly satisfactory for us.
From the beginning, Solid Gear’s main objective was to establish a relationship of trust and transparency with ownCloud as we were convinced it was the right track to attain our objectives: Launching ownCloud mobile apps on the market and meeting the expectations of the end-customer and ownCloud itself.
If we compare the situation at the starting point, when the team was made up of 4 persons (iOS, Android, QA, Manager), with today, the mobile team has almost doubled in number, going from 4 to 7 persons.
Aside from the mobile team, the rest of members of the dedicated team for ownCloud has increased to 13 people.
What are the main reasons behind success?
- Methodology. There was not a clear methodology at the project onset; only weekly meetings and daily email management. Solid Gear encouraged ownCloud to stick to a defined methodology based on Scrum and, as of today, they have been working in this way for 3 years. This has been the driver to change for other teams as well.
- Engineer team. To be ahead of the expectations has been of key importance for us, surprising the product owner and clients on each interaction. During these years, many are the examples to prove it, among which, the tech challenges we achieved, the process automation and/or the new ideas obtained from the user’s experience, are found.
- Communication. As ownCloud is a distributed team, clarity and teamwork are more than communication enablers. The Solid Gear team is fully integrated with the other teams, to the point that we can discuss about engineering, sales, marketing or support issues.
- Support. Aside from engineering work, people at Solid Gear are in charge of the users’ support, either through Github, or directly via email and even through teleconferencing and meetings.
After working in the mobile app development for 4 years, we are proud to say that more than half million apps were sold through the usual channels and even more importantly; these were positively assessed by users on the markets.
On top of this half million, we must highlight that there is another type of clients using their own customized apps which represent over half million end-users, which increases the figure substantially.
We feel as part and actually we are part of the ownCloud family team.
Thanks to the work done during these years always on the right track, Solid Gear team has expanded, going from 4 to 13 persons since 2012.
These 13 persons are distributed among the different teams within the ownCloud structure, which tells you the extent of cohesion achieved.
Thanks to this great team and this integration level, we have been able to achieve important milestones during these years, among them, the following are found:
- Libraries. We developed ownCloud mobile libraries that allow other external developers to build their own ownCloud apps.
- Security. As a key feature, the team is constantly committed to security, including but not limited to, the support for different certificates, authentication mechanisms or new protocols.
- Server integration. It is about integrating not only the back-end through the API but also its integration with the entire solutions ecosystem.
- Installation choices. One of ownCloud advantages is the ample range of installation choices that offers, ranging from server versions to databases and/or external integrations (SharePoint, LDAP, etc.). All of which are fully integrated into the mobile apps.
- Multi-account. ownCloud affords one of the few available solutions on the market that offers support to multiple accounts.
- Automatic customized interface. While analysing the time invested in customizing a set of apps for a customer, we realized we could greatly benefit from its automation. The new system allows the automation by a single click, saving lots of time to the developers who in the past carried out this task by hand.
The success of the project speaks by itself. A team that started with 4 people, has grown to 13 after 4 years, clearly the ownCloud project has had an amazing turnaround integrating a distributed team in a corporate discipline, maximasing the engineering results and keeping costs under control.