These days, a modern workflow includes fast coordination processes in teams that should also function independently of time and location. For this type of collaboration, it is essential that all team members can edit documents together without conflicts due to different file versions or endless and tiring comment loops. In this article I’d like to show you two examples which represent open source alternatives to cloud office solutions from known software giants.

Large providers: extensive solutions come with the price of losing control over user data

Of course, large SaaS providers such as Microsoft or Google have recognized and responded to this desire. Microsoft 365 with its OneDrive connection as well as Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms are very popular among private users and companies. However, these solutions have a serious disadvantage that should be considered for data protection reasons: With these big players, the data is usually located on servers abroad. This means that data control is handed over to these providers.

Cloud office and open source: all collaboration functions under full control

The situation is different with open source solutions. Companies have sole control over their data, choose the storage location themselves and decide which functions they make available to employees:

  • Access is possible from anywhere and from almost any device.
  • The functionality differs little or not at all from that of common desktop applications.
  • Documents, tables and presentations can be edited together in real time. This means: Every change is synchronized in real-time and directly visible to all users.
  • If desired, the collaboration takes place on their own servers, so that data protection can be guaranteed.
  • The open source API allows developers to write their own add-ons and extend the functionality of the applications.

Cloud office solutions in the Univention App Center

In our App Center, two different cloud office solutions are available that combine all the advantages mentioned above: Collabora Online and ONLYOFFICE Document Server.

Collabora-Online: Office package with proven patterns

Collabora Online is a powerful office solution for the cloud based on LibreOffice. The application supports all major document, spreadsheet and presentation file formats and offers functions for collaborative work on documents. The app integrates perfectly into UCS environments and allows file access through the web browser.

Multiple people editing a document via Collabora

The editing of documents in teams is included in the Cloud Office open source solution Collabora.

To enable collaborative document editing, Collabora Online requires a file sharing solution. The apps ownCloud, Nextcloud or Seafile, which can also be easily integrated into a UCS environment and are available in the App Center, are ideal for this purpose. For ownCloud and Nextcloud there are Collabora-preconfigured virtual appliances available for download in the Univention App catalog,

ONLYOFFICE Document Server: extensive possibilities for teams

ONLYOFFICE Document Server is yet another web-based platform for creating and collaboratively editing texts, tables and presentations.

User interface of the presentation module in ONLYOFFICE

With ONLYOFFICE, presentations can be created in an intuitive way.

In addition to a wide range of formatting functions and comprehensive options for team collaboration, the solution is particularly appreciated for its compatibility with many file formats and its easy integration into a UCS environment. Preconfigured appliances for ONLYOFFICE with ownCloud and Nextcloud are also available in the Univention App catalog for quick testing and uncomplicated commissioning.

Open source and flexible

Together with an open source file sharing solution for file exchange and integration into an open operating platform such as Univention Corporate Server, Collabora Online and ONLYOFFICE Document Server are powerful solutions for collaborative work. They protect your privacy and you retain full control over sensitive company data. Both solutions are available as free community versions. On request, you can also receive maintenance and professional support for both solutions from the respective manufacturer which can be obtained in the Univention App Center Shop.

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Nico Gulden studied applied computer science and works for Univention since 2010. He is responsible for the Product Management and the relationship management of the App vendors in the Univention App Center. His spare time is dedicated to his family, reading, outdoor activities light photography, Geocaching and mapping for the OpenStreetMap project.

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