Like the idea of having a cloud office suite, but not crazy about being locked into Microsoft Office 365 or Google Docs software-as-a-service (SaaS) ? Two open-source companies, ownCloud and Kolab Systems, are working on enabling an office suite for your own private cloud.
The integrated SaaS Collabora’s CloudSuite and Kolab’s groupware will enable users to work on documents simultaneously within the Kolab collaboration suite. Users will be able to compose documents, fill in spreadsheets and design presentations together. Documents can later be saved in the most common formats, including Microsoft and the Open Document standard formats.
“For too long, closed and insecure solutions have been the industry standard for office and groupware productivity,” said Kolab System’s CEO Georg Greve in a statement.
Seigo said, “20 years ago, email as a lone product was the expectation in enterprise. Groupware servers, such as Microsoft’s Exchange, helped redefine expectations, and people came to expect contacts and calendaring with their mail. These days Google Apps and Office 365 are teaching people that ‘collaboration’ includes an office suite. We want to liberate people from those proprietary products.”
That all sounds nice, but can Kolab deliver what an enterprise needs? It looks like it to me. They’ve been successfully supporting an earlier version of their groupware for over 14,000 Linux and Windows users in Munich for closing on two years now.
The real question is, when will Collabora CloudSuite be ready to go? The program is still in a technology preview. I expect it to be ready for primetime in mid-2016, but you know how wiggly software deadlines can be.
Still, offices that like the idea of thin clients and the Linux desktop will find this paired offering attractive. I also see it appealing to private-cloud fans wanting to give it a twirl.
There is no question that public cloud services such as Office 365 and Google Docs are very attractive. For a small business, you pay almost nothing for either one. But, if you want the real control over your data that can only come from a private cloud, this might be your answer.
The first version of Kolab with integrated CloudSuite functionality is scheduled to appear in the second quarter of 2016.