Brussels / 30 & 31 January 2016


Layers Box

Private cloud made easy

Using cloud providers to run business-critical software is not an option for many small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe and worldwide. Also private users are increasingly aware of the privacy risks when relying on the services of big enterprises. Running your own server is often considered "geeky", with only nerds being able to do administrate a server. We want to change that! Our Open Source "Layers Box" is an infrastructure for creating, installing and running packages of inter-dependent self-hosted services on own hardware. We would like to present our approach and inspire the Lightning Talk audience to discuss possible additional use cases and services.

In our European research project, we currently aim to find solutions for scaling informal learning at the workplace, that is all learning that happens e.g. through videos at a construction site. Many of our pilot companies in construction are willing to provide content like tutorials of new materials, but they are afraid to lose rights on their material when uploading it "to the cloud". Often, a lot of intellectual property is recorded as well that needs to be filtered before releasing. On the other hand, in our healthcare pilots, many practices are simply not allowed to use cloud services with health data due to governmental regulation. Thus driven by recent trends such as microservices, micro data centers, DevOps and HTML5 Web applications, we created a stack called "Layers Box". First, it is a piece of Python-based software that basically works the same as npm or bower, except that you install whole services like ownCloud as Linux containers (with Docker). Second, it is a packaging infrastructure with some ready-made pre-configured services. For example, we provide packages for OpenLDAP, Open ID Connect and self-service tools for managing accounts. Through "action" triggers, we take care of prerequisites like creating databases or OpenID Connect/OAuth2 clients. All is served with a https-only reverse proxy in front.

Concretely, to set up e.g. ownCloud, you would need to type on the command line layersbox init layersbox install openldap layersbox install openidconnect layersbox install owncloud The result will be a server where all the software mentioned above are installed and ready to be used after creating an account.

At the Lightning Talk, we would like to present our ongoing efforts and give an outlook on work we plan in the future, like a Web-based graphical interface. And of course we aim to make it even easier for companies and private users to install your own Layers Box - to keep your data safely within your own premises using Open Source tools!

The project is available at

We are a large-scale European research project with 17 partners. Our research group therein is located at RWTH Aachen University


István Koren