August 18, 2016

From ownCloud to Nextcloud: A Proven Cloud Innovator Launches a Promising New Platform

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Nextcloud
Nextcloud is already a proven private IaaS cloud platform, and it includes new features like file drop capabilities and enterprise-class logging.

The ever popular ownCloud open source file-sharing and storage platform for building private clouds went through a shakeup not long ago. CTO and founder of ownCloud Frank Karlitschek resigned from the company and penned an open letter, which pointed to possible friction created as ownCloud moved forward as a commercial entity as opposed to a solely community focused, open source project.  A few months after that decision, though, Karlitschek revealed a very promising new cloud platform: Nextcloud.

Nextcloud is a fork of ownCloud, and there are strong signs that we can expect good things from this open platform. Although ownCloud is open core, all of Nextcloud's features are open source. The first release is based on ownCloud 9, which arrived in March 2016. The bottom line is that the testing and hardening that made ownCloud a solid platform carries over to Nextcloud. It’s already a proven private infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud platform. Nextcloud introduces many new features, too, including file drop capabilities and enterprise-class logging. The logging features enables administrators to generate compliance reports or auditing information and they can feed the logs into enterprise tools and solutions like Splunk.

Nextcloud is making moves that strongly differentiate it from ownCloud, and they are moves that could attract the DevOps community and enterprise IT departments. In fact, the Nextcloud site notes the following, regarding the instant carryover community that Nextcloud will benefit from:

“Started by the well known open source file sync and share developer Frank Karlitschek and joined by the most active contributors to his previous project, building on its mature code base, we offer a more reliable and sustainable solution for users and customers. We have developed a drop-in replacement for that legacy code base, providing the bug fixes and security hardening all users need and the Enterprise Subscription capabilities enterprise customers require, all fully open source.”

With Nextcloud, the company is providing enterprise support subscriptions, and good bridges to the cloud via mobile devices. Nextcloud recently announced an iOS app that lets iOS users gain instant access to Nextcloud-stored content. And, the company has also announced Nextcloud Android Client version 1.1.0 on the Google Play Store.

Focus on Security

Nextcloud is also focusing on security, which can be a sticky issue for open cloud platforms. It is adding two-factor authentication and methods for blocking brute force hacking attacks. Nextcloud will also support the use of Google Authenticator and self-supported authentication via SMS. “We made a number of improvements to the security of the code base, hardening it against potential attacks, and fixed a number of bugs, making sure an upgrade doesn’t leave the installation in a broken state,” developers report.

What about applications that tie in with the Nextcloud platform? Nextcloud has partnered with Collabora Productivity to bring  Collabora Online Development Edition (CODE) to Nextcloud users. This is a version of the LibreOffice productivity suite that caters to enterprise users. When it comes to offering productivity applications that can incorporate cloud storage and services, it puts Nextcloud on a level playing field with Microsoft’s Office 365 suite, and Google Docs.

Version 10 of Nextcloud’s platform is in beta testing now, and you can download the beta and access forum-based support here. You can also learn how to install Nextcloud on Ubuntu in this tutorial. Open source cloud platforms have been all the rage for the past several years, and even though Nextcloud is only a couple of months old, it comes from a proven cloud player in Frank Karlitschek, and it’s a story to watch.

Meanwhile, ownCloud is far from forgotten. “There is tremendous potential in ownCloud and it is an open source product protected by the AGPL license,” Karlitschek wrote in his open resignation letter. In fact, ownCloud 9.0 Enterprise Edition has just arrived.  It incorporates full federation, letting users on different servers share directories and files. If you’re interested in exploring ownCloud, you can take a guided video tour of the platform here.

Learn more about cloud technologies through The Linux Foundation's free self-paced Introduction to Cloud Infrastructure Technologies course. 

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