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App of the Week: LDAP Home Connector

Posted by ownCloud GmbH – 11. August 2017

Welcome to the second part of our ownCloud App of the Week blog series. In this post we would like to introduce the ownCloud LDAP Home Connector application, shed light on how it works and of course explain why it is so useful.

The LDAP Home Connector is not to be confused with the LDAP User and Group Backend application for ownCloud. Both are based on LDAP functionalities, but are independent apps. Nevertheless, in order to use the LDAP Home Connector you must have the ownCloud LDAP User and Group Backend enabled and a working LDAP/AD configuration set up in ownCloud.

For starters, the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, or short LDAP, is a standard application protocol for accessing and maintaining directory information services. It allows centralized distribution of information about e.g. users or systems throughout the network and is therefore essential for making various services (e.g. Mail, Chat and ownCloud, of course) available for the same or parts of the user pool.

What does the LDAP Home Connector do?

In short, it enables administrators to mount user’s home directories on a file server (e.g. Windows Home Directories) within an ownCloud instance and makes them accessible directly on the Files page in ownCloud just like any other folder. The LDAP Home Connector application is able to map the user entries of an LDAP-based user directory with the folder names in a defined root folder on the network server.

For this to be possible, the administrator has to specify the network address of the file server and a LDAP attribute name in the ownCloud admin panel. This path is then used at login to mount the user’s home directory into the ownCloud root folder of every user.

One of the big advantages of the LDAP Home Connector application for users is the possibility to access their Windows Home Directory through ownCloud from anywhere without the struggle of a VPN connection. Typically, in enterprises the file server containing the home directories is located behind a firewall, making it mandatory to use a VPN to access it from outside the company network. With the LDAP Home Connector integration all of this is handled by ownCloud. Users can access their mounted Home Directory from everywhere in a secure way through the ownCloud web-interface or the ownCloud clients (Desktop, Android, iOS). No VPN is needed.
Furthermore users also benefit from the ownCloud collaboration features when working in their mounted home directories. For example users are able to share their home directory files internally and externally and benefit from security measures like file versioning.

In distinction to the External Storage: Windows Network Drives application, the LDAP Home Connector can only map one folder per user and requires an LDAP attribute to specify the path to the user’s home directory. The LDAP Home Connector can however map the LDAP user names to the folder names in the root folder of the file server, making an administrator’s life easy by automating the task of manually configuring every single folder integration.

The full documentation on the LDAP Home Connector can be found here.

So, have you already tried the LDAP Home Connector? As always we’d love to hear your feedback!
Also stay tuned for next weeks App of the Week Blog!