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OmniPresence, the Omni Group's new cloud sync service, hits all the right buttons

Marco Tabini | May 23, 2013
Syncing is a hot topic these days, with plenty of alternatives and lots of angst over their perceived limitations and shortcomings.

OmniPresence also has a leg up over Apple's iCloud--primarily because it supports syncing across multiple members of a team, as opposed to only across multiple devices owned by the same user, but also because, being based on an open and well-known technology, it's likely easier to debug when things go awry.

Privacy please

Omni has decided to offer OmniPresence in three different forms. The first is as part of Omni Sync Server, a free service that allows you to sync your documents in the cloud, much as Dropbox and iCloud do.

As an alternative, the company will also make the server portion of OmniPresence available as a standalone (and free) product that can be installed on your own servers--or those of any hosting provider that supports Apache and WebDAV, which includes just about any provider on Earth.

Compared to a cloud-based service, this approach introduces significant advantages from a privacy and security perspective. As Omni's Case puts it, "letting choose where your data is is very important to people who value privacy, like corporate customers and government users."

And speaking of open ...

In addition to the free server-side components, Omni is also releasing the client-side libraries that make it possible for apps to communicate with the sync servers as open-source software; this, in turn, will make it possible for other developers to adopt and incorporate support for OmniPresence into their own software using the Apple frameworks they are already familiar with.

This kind of generosity may seem unusual for a software company, particularly when it comes to as hot a market as sync, but Case says that it's in his company's DNA, adding that "when we build technologies that we feel are generally useful, we try to make them available as free source code so that we can help push the state of the art in our industry."

The right sync stuff

OmniPresence's relevance in a sea of alternatives remains to be seen, but Omni seems to have hit on all the right features: privacy, simplicity, support for teams, and openness. This combination of factors could well conspire to make the company's sync solution very successful, indeed.

In particular, support for custom servers and the availability of the client libraries as open-source code that relies on existing OS X and iOS frameworks could create a new rally point for those third-party developers who are increasingly disenchanted with iCloud's instability and inscrutability--perhaps to the point of OmniPresence becoming a new standard for syncing inside Apple's ecosystem.

For now, if you happen to use one--or many--of the company's popular apps, OmniPresence mainly means that you'll be able to sync your data across multiple devices (and, eventually, across your entire team) with little to no effort, and without taking up space on either your Dropbox or iCloud accounts. And that, in and of itself, could well be more than enough reason to check the service out when it launches on Wednesday.

 

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