This announcement is noteworthy for a variety of reasons, starting with the obvious: it offers an alternative to Microsoft’s (and to a lesser degree Google’s) near monopoly when it comes to enterprise ready collaboration software. Until now, your choices have basically been Microsoft with SharePoint and MS Office, and Google with Drive and Workspace. Now there’s Nextcloud, with the one-two punch of it’s new SharePoint replacement capabilities and Nextcloud Office.
The fact that Nextcloud Enterprise comes with support (including the migration services for removing the pain of moving your data to its new home) at a fraction of the cost of maintaining Microsoft licensing, makes making the move to Nextcloud something of a no-brainer for some.
It’s also available for free, for individuals, small companies, and even enterprises that want to forego support and use the community help and documentation that’s available on Nextcloud’s website.
“Nextcloud’s initiative to offer a digitally sovereign, open-source alternative to Microsoft SharePoint is to be welcomed,” Ralf Sutorius, the lead IT architect for the City of Cologne’s official website said in a statement.
MagentaCLOUD currently hosts the data of about 2 million active users who are working with over 2 billion files containing more than 6 petabytes of data.
Germany’s federal and state data protection authorities (DSK) have raised concerns about the compatibility of Microsoft 365 with data protection laws in Germany and the wider European Union.
Under the GDPR, children below the age of 13 are incapable of consenting to their data being collected, while consent may be given by those with parental responsibility for those under 16 but not younger than 13. When platforms do store data on adults, those customers are meant to be able to request the deletion of their records.
Microsoft has denied that its assessment : “We ensure that our M365 products not only meet, but often exceed, the strict EU data protection laws. Our customers in Germany and throughout the EU can continue to use M365 products without hesitation and in a legally secure manner.”
That statement is not actually a categorical and clear denial of what Germany alleges. But actually my opinion is, if there is concern about any age group using this software for educational purposes, all the concepts (and use) can also be taught using open source LibreOffice and then there is no issue like this. Schools should anyway be teaching concepts and principles, that there are options out there, and to innovate around experimentation, adapting software, etc.
This is an excellent example of a government taking ownership over it’s own hosting and verification. No-one can edit, censor, remove, doubt, etc their posts. They are not reliant on any external country or service for their hosting. It’s all using open source software, too, so no expiring license or foreign sanctions to impede it.
Too many governments, and even corporates, have become reliant on 3rd party hosting services for their social media interactions, often located outside their own countries. They have no contracts in place with those services, ownerships can change, they can be banned because of take-down requests, or for reasons that may not be illegal in their own country.
The French government too had been hosting their own open source Matrix server for fully secure E2EE of messaging with their overseas diplomats.
The new German ‘traffic light’ coalition from SPD, Greens and FDP released the results of weeks of negotiation: their coalition agreement. A key component of this extensive agreement are commitments to furthering the digitalization of the German government, in particular through the use of open source and with an eye towards Digital Sovereignty of the German government.
Some relevant quotes:
„We want to increase the strategic sovereignty of Europe.“
„Municipalities must benefit from federal funds and be able to adopt solutions developed within the framework of the One-for-all principle. (Public Money Public Code)“
„We require open standards for public IT projects. Development contracts should typically be commissioned as open source, the corresponding software is generally made public. On the basis of a multi-cloud strategy and open interfaces as well as strict security and transparency requirements, we are building a public administration cloud.“
„Government data from all administrative levels are to be made available in standardized formats in the future. The agricultural data room in Gaia-X as the basis of a European data infrastructure with clear usage rights for farmers to the farm-specific data, which they helped to create, is being further developed with standardized interfaces. Open source formats are expressly supported.“
In doing so, the state wants to reduce its dependence on proprietary software, and eventually end it altogether. By the end of 2026, Microsoft Office is to be replaced by LibreOffice on all 25,000 computers used by civil servants and employees (including teachers), and the Windows operating system is to be replaced by GNU/Linux.