Univention’s vision is a world in which people and organizations alike use IT in a self-determined way and can help shape it – for us, this can be summarized as Digital Sovereignty. We derive our mission from this vision: We create IT solutions that are open, transparent and easy to use. This is what all our teams are working on at various levels. The open source philosophy is always a pillar of this. We publish the source code of all our solutions both to enable users to understand the mechanisms of our software solutions and to enable them to continue working with them themselves.
We regularly ask colleagues about their personal understanding of the vision, their own mission, and how they would like to influence it. This time, we spoke with Johannes Königer from our Software Development department and asked him a few questions. Learn more about Johannes, his mission and his work at Univention.
Hello Johannes! Can you please introduce yourself briefly?
My name is Johannes and I am a software developer at Univention. Originally, I have a background in natural sciences. After completing my studies, I initially worked for several years as a development engineer in mechanical engineering. However, I increasingly worked there as a software developer (test automation, process control, data evaluation). I then decided to switch completely to software development.
About myself: I live near Würzburg, work 100 % remotely, am married and have two children.
What kind of tasks do you have at Univention?
I am a software developer in the UCS@school team. My usual tasks are to fix bugs, test the product, and develop new features for our solutions. Just what a software developer does. In my current project, I’m working on the roles and rights model of UCS, which is currently being developed by our whole team.
What motivated you to work for Univention?
One thing that motivated me to apply was Univention’s corporate philosophy. There is also a modern development infrastructure for daily work and I can program in Python in a Linux environment. I think that is important. Plus I like the flexibility, I can work 100 % remotely and have a very free working schedule.
What do you understand by digital sovereignty?
For me, it’s about, among other things, the degree of dependence on a few organizations and the transparency of those organizations. If I depend on a few non-transparent organizations, I am less “digitally sovereign” than if I depend on a larger number of transparent organizations. By transparency here, I am referring to the collection of data and how it is analyzed by the organization in question. An organization should not have too much “digital power” over people/institutions, but they should be sovereign in their choice and use of IT and always be in control of their data.
How does this relate to open source software for you?
Open source software contributes to the transparency in use of IT – the software can be viewed by anyone and data evaluations by third parties can be better tracked. Plus, open source software can be maintained by others if the original organization/person who maintained the software can no longer do so. In addition, even though this is not a unique selling point of open source software, people often associate it with the ability to get by without cloud services – that is, to be able to run everything locally on their own servers and thus have maximum control.
How do you notice in your day-to-day work that you support this goal?
Apart from the openness that is not only in the slogan “be open” at Univention, but is also practiced, the open source model influences architectural decisions in software development, for example. Additionally, very many digital tools used at Univention are open source.
Why do you support the Digital Sovereignty vision?
Historically, socially and technically, it has been proven to distribute power and knowledge to as many entities as possible rather than to a few. In the case of Digital Sovereignty, the results would be, for example, resilience and flexibility.
Is it also a topic that you think about outside of your work?
Previously, I had only dealt with the topic of “digital sovereignty” to the extent that I pay attention to data protection where I can and clearly prefer open source software, but not without certain compromises. Aside from a few bug reports, I had very limited involvement in open source software development – before I started at Univention.