Want to take back control of your data from Google or Microsoft? With these open source apps, you can replace the most used functionality of G Suite or Office 365 with self hosted alternatives which respect your privacy and eliminate per-seat licensing costs. Even if your organization’s policy doesn’t permit using G Suite or O365, your users deserve the convenience of a similar suite of communication & collaboration tools – delivered via 100% open source alternatives.
An open source license means that the source code of these applications are made freely available for any knowledgeable developer to examine. This ensures that the maintainer cannot be coerced by intelligence agencies to add backdoors which could compromise your privacy. Also, security vulnerabilities can be discovered more easily by independent security researchers in open source software, paving the way for them to be patched more quickly.
Self hosted applications are compatible with a wide range of hosting environments, from bare metal on premise, to virtual machines on a IaaS provider’s cloud platform. You can even host your data in Switzerland if you wish! Unlike with G Suite or Office 365, as an administrator you maintain complete control, so you can align your data protection practices to your business and compliance needs. This helps your organization respond more effectively to emerging privacy & security concerns, such as data sovereignty and ransomware protection.
Every user you create in G Suite or O365 carries a flat per-user fee – irrrespective to how much storage space that user consumes. This pricing model is clearly designed to advantage Google or Microsoft, since 80% of inboxes contain less than 21,000 messages, with the average at 8,024 messages. A typical email message is about 75KB, meaning the average inbox uses only 600 MB of storage. G Suite Standard costs $72/user annually (up from $60 prior to Apr 2019), whether a user uses 1GB or 100GB of storage.
For most small to medium businesses, partnering with an independent, managed service provider to self host their inboxes will reduce costs – while improving privacy & security. If you want to rein in your G Suite or O365 costs, take a look at switching to a suite of open source collaboration tools with unlimited users – Mailcow, Rocket Chat, NextCloud, and OnlyOffice.
Mailcow is a email server with Postfix, Dovecot, Rspamd, and SOGo Groupware. Users can access their inboxes, calendar, and contacts through the SOGO web interface, or connect with any email client including Apple Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird, or Microsoft Outlook through IMAP, CalDAV, and CardDAV.
Rocket Chat is a team / community chat tool with a Meteor and MongoDB backend. It also supports live chat functionality for customer service or technical support teams. There are cross-platform desktop clients and mobile apps for Android and iOS. The Jitsi integration provides self-hosted, encrypted voice and video chat.
NextCloud is a cloud storage and file synchronization tool based on the WebDAV sync protocol. It supports server-side-encryption, which can be used in conjunction with full disk encryption for extra security. External storages including local, NFS, SMB, S3 mounts can be added and shared within NextCloud. In the NextCloud App Store, you can extend with additional features including ransomware protection, Antivirus, Passman password manager, and much more.
OnlyOffice is a web-based office suite which integrates with NextCloud to provide a seamless document editing experience. It is fully compatible with Office OpenXML formats including .docx, .xlsx, and .pptx. In co-editing mode, users see the position of their teammates’ cursors in real-time and can comment on their edits – similar to Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, or Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.