Nextcloud 20: One private cloud to rule them all

It started as a great, open-source Infrastructure-as-a-Service cloud, but today Nextcloud is becoming an all-in-one office productivity suite.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

I've long recommended Nextcloud as a wonderful open-source, private Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud. I run it myself both on a server in my office and on my TMDHosting remote server. Over time, though, Nextcloud has been adding more features. These include built-in video-conferencing and group meeting services. Nextcloud Talk and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) version of the LibreOffice office suiteCollabora. Now, with Nextcloud 20, other third-party services such as Microsoft TeamsSlackJira, GitHub, Twitter, and dozens of others are being integrated.

As Frank Karlitschek, Nextcloud's CEO and founder, explained, "Nextcloud Hub 20 is a dramatic step for users, bringing the different platforms they use during the day into an integrated experience. This can reduce friction, improve reaction times, avoid context switching and ultimately bring greater productivity to our tens of millions of users across the globe -- all the while protecting data security and digital sovereignty of private and enterprise users."

It adds on to its existing strengths by using an open application programming interface (API), the Open Collaboration Services (OCS). This is a long, established API. Started as part of KDE's open desktop standardization effort in 2009, OCS now handles basic file functionality like file access, sharing, versioning, and commenting. It also covers communications, calendaring, and task management. 

Nextcloud is using it to bridge the gap between its own Talk chat service with other communications services, besides the ones mentioned earlier, such as Matrix, IRC, XMPP, and many others. More IM services, such as HipChat and Telegram, are in the works

It's also using it to glue together Nextcloud's integrated, unified search with ticketing systems such as Jira and Zammad, development platforms like GitHub and Gitlab, e-learning systems like Moodle, forums like Discourse and Reddit, and social media platforms such as Twitter and Mastodon.

It also comes with a new user status. With this, you can not let your co-workers know when you're available, or, if you like, you can let them know what you're working on at any given moment. 

You can also search across the entire Nextcloud platform, instead of being application-specific. Yes, that means you can search over all your files and programs' data. You can also extend the search to other apps. So far, Nextcloud's developers have extended it over the Github and Gitlab coding platforms, the Zammad and Jira helpdesk tools, Discourse forums, and the Moodle e-learning system. 

Under the hood, Nextcloud Talk 10 brings performance and call reliability improvements. This includes an emoji picker and upload view, better camera and microphone settings, mute abilities for moderators, and more.

Nextcloud Mail has also been improved. It now includes extensive mailbox management features such as threaded email views and other interface updates. 

In the Nextcloud back-end, numerous performance and security improvements were made to make the Nextloud interface more responsive. It's Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. (LDAP) back-ends have also been tuned up.

To make the most from all these features still requires an expert administrator. Nextcloud is a do-it-yourself platform in many ways. For example, you'll need to manually activate many of the new functions before users can put them to work. 

Still, the basic IaaS and SaaS functionality are already there and ready to run for anyone. The other features may take some time and effort, but in the end, you'll have an open-source private cloud workspace that you can use with popular public services and your own in-house storage and services.

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