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Nextcloud Taking On Microsoft and Google in Germany and the EU

Nextcloud announced on Wednesday that it now has a SharePoint replacement ready for production use, and that Deutsche Telekom has made Nextcloud Office available to the users of MagentaCLOUD.

Group photo of Nextcloud employees.
Nextcloud employees are happy about their company’s gains. Source: Nextcloud

The PR folks at Germany-based Nextcloud, the open source platform that allows individuals and organizations to host their own cloud, were working overtime on Wednesday issuing two major announcements. The first was that they’ve released a ready-for-prime-time SharePoint replacement, complete with migration services for their enterprise customers. The second was was that Nextcloud Office is now available to users of Deutsche Telekom’s MagentaCLOUD.

While the suits at Microsoft and Google would scoff at the suggestion, neither of these announcements is good news for either company.

Nextcloud’s New SharePoint Replacement

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.

“We believe that development based on real world requirements and demand, rather than a strategy of forcing customers into a vendor lock-in, results in better products,” Frank Karlitschek, the CEO and founder of Nextcloud said in a statement. “Demand for an open, on-premises structured data platform as part of Nextcloud has been huge, and several customers have already signed up to deploy our technology.”

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.

Did I say a fraction of the cost? That’s if you include hosting, support, or any of the other services that Nextcloud offers with a price tag attached. 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.

The platform is also battle tested, with the newer SharePoint capabilites designed in collaboration with a number of European government organizations, including the German state Schleswig-Holstein, which announced their intention to replace SharePoint with Nextcloud back in 2020.

The folks at Nextcloud tell me that several other government organizations have committed to the platform as well, with even more providing feedback and information on their requirements, with tentative plans to adopt Nextcloud as their on-premises SharePoint replacement.

“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. “That’s why we work together with Nextcloud to optimize Nextcloud Tables.”

Enterprises that want or need to keep their data on-premises instead of in Microsoft’s public cloud are also looking at Nextcloud’s new SharePoint functionality. Extended support for SharePoint Server ends in 2026, and the word from the streets is that Microsoft plans to make SharePoint available only as a SaaS offering after that, which seems to be the direction that Redmond is taking for MS Office as well.

MagentaCLOUD Being Redefined by Nextcloud

The announcement that Deutsche Telekom (by revenue, Europe’s largest telecommunications provider) has made Nextcloud Office available to users of its MagentaCLOUD service is more of a continuum story than something new, since the telecom has been using Nextcloud to increase the scope of its cloud offering for several years now.

Although MagentaCLOUD was initially a cloud storage service, sort of a German version of Dropbox, in 2021 Nextcloud and Deutsche Telekom partnered to offer an open-source, EU hosted, collaboration platform for enterprise customers, meaning that yesterday’s announcement that Nextcloud Office has been added to the mix is just another step in that direction.

It’s an important step however. With the availability of Nextcloud Office, which offers a browser-based office productivity suite based on Collabora’s productivity software (which is based on LibreOffice), Deutsche Telekom’s cloud platform starts to resemble Microsoft’s and Google’s collaboration and productivity offerings. Some would say it’s better, since both Microsoft and Google have shaky reputations in the privacy department, whereas Nextcloud, like EU governments, is serious about addressing privacy issues.

“We are excited to see MagentaCLOUD users gain access to the powerful collaboration features of Nextcloud,” Karlitschek said. “This is a big win for privacy in Europe.”

This addition will undoubtedly be especially useful for small to medium sized businesses located in areas served by Deutsche Telekom that can’t afford the expense of operating their own clouds, since it’s becoming increasingly complicated to use similar online services from Microsoft and Google while remaining compliant with the GDPR and other privacy regulations.

MagentaCLOUD is completely hosted on Deutsche Telekom’s Open Telekom Cloud, with all servers being located within the EU. The GDPR requires that all data collected on its citizens from within the EU must be stored in the EU where it is subject to European privacy laws, or within a jurisdiction that has similar levels of protection.

The fact that the platform and Nextcloud Office are open source is also another plus, since privacy regulators in the EU and Germany are increasingly preferring open source over proprietary software, in part due to the transparency of open source code.

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.

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