Cloud

Nextcloud 13 adds end-to-end encryption and Slack competitor Nextcloud Talk

The open source file sharing and management suite gains more features for SMBs in the latest release.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Nextcloud has implemented end-to-end encryption as a technical preview, and increased LDAP speed by as much as 80%.
  • Nextcloud Talk, an enterprise collaboration suite, was launched to compete against Slack and similar services.

Nextcloud 13, released Tuesday, adds support for full end-to-end encryption in technical preview and a new collaboration tool that could compete with Slack. The additional features further bolster the value of the open source file sharing and management suite among professionals.

The encryption implementation in Nextcloud can be enabled in both full disk and per-folder cases, and does not require remembering or exchanging passwords to use. It allows for full logging for auditing purposes, and integrates with the existing file access control and cryptographic identity protection features in Nextcloud for administrative support. Additionally, the LDAP implementation has seen significant improvement, becoming as much as 80% faster in a test case.

Other security improvements include multi-key two-factor authentication, IP range restriction abilities, a token-based login system for clients, and changes to update notifications in an effort to keep deployments of Nextcloud server up-to-date.

SEE: Comparison chart: Enterprise collaboration tools (Tech Pro Research)

In an attempt to compete with collaboration tools like Slack and Stride, Nextcloud has also released "Nextcloud Talk," a completely self-hosted audio/video and text chat solution. It supports group and one-on-one video calls, webinars, screen sharing, mobile apps for Android and iOS, and an SIP gateway for users joining a call from a standard phone. Enterprise support for Nextcloud Talk is offered by Struktur, and starts at $60 per user, per year for the first 50 users, on top of a base fee of $6000.

The Groupware features of Nextcloud were also updated in version 13. The Calendar app now supports free/busy scheduling types from apps like Thunderbird Lightning, as well as showing meeting invitations. Full-text search, based on Elasticsearch, now requires fewer resources to operate. Support for HIDPI displays, such as the Retina display on Macs, was also improved.

The Nextcloud server application can be downloaded freely, while apps for Android and iOS are in the respective app stores for those platforms. For existing Nextcloud users, updates to Nextcloud 13 have begun staged rollouts, allowing the developers to stop the rollout in the event that problems occur during upgrade. For the impatient, you can prompt an automatic update to Nextcloud 13 by enrolling in the beta program, updating, and subsequently leaving the beta program.

Why Nextcloud?

Rather in the same way that LibreOffice was forked from OpenOffice following a dispute between a group of developers and the corporate sponsor of the project, Nextcloud is a fork of ownCloud, both of which were originally created by Frank Karlitschek. When Nextcloud was founded in April 2016, much of the original development team from ownCloud left to continue work on Nextcloud. As such, Nextcloud should be considered the premier option for a self-hosted file management solution.

That said, ownCloud GmbH still exists, and independently develops ownCloud (at a slower pace) as well as provides paid support options for enterprises.

Also see

nextcloud.jpg
Image: iStockphoto/Pogonici

About James Sanders

James Sanders is a Tokyo-based programmer and technology journalist. Since 2013, he has been a regular contributor to TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox