Twee collega's in een vergaderkamer

Testing ground for open source collaboration platform Nextcloud

With some 70 participants, we set to work to get hands-on experience with the open source solution Nextcloud. We are doing this in a testing ground lasting three months. Nextcloud is a collaboration environment that includes an office suite, online meetings and document storage and sharing.

With an eye for public values, SURF is exploring this solution together with a number of institutions, Kennisnet, Sivon and a few more chain partners. The final evaluation of this living lab will follow at the beginning of September 2023. SURF will be assisted by a team from The Good Cloud, official partner of the Nextcloud software in the Netherlands.

Collaboration across institutional boundaries

As an open source solution, Nextcloud distinguishes itself from others by the great attention paid to user-friendliness (the software's user interface), privacy, security and the use of open standards. Nextcloud also offers a multitude of options for collaborating with others outside the own institution. Currently, this is the use case that is most prevalent in the testing ground.

In recurring consultation hours, participants share their experiences. The final evaluation of this testing ground will follow at the beginning of September 2023. SURF will be assisted by a team from The Good Cloud, official partner of Nextcloud software in the Netherlands.

In addition, unexpected and innovative ideas are also surfacing. Users are considering a possibility of being able to fall back on a Nextcloud instance in case of a cyber (crisis) to maintain communication with employees; thus, as part of a back-up plan.

Enthusiasm among participants

"There is a lot of enthusiasm among the participants," says Thomas van Himbergen, who is supervising the testing ground from SURF. "There is high involvement and from all participating institutions people are jumping on board. It has positively surprised me how much need there is to look at this kind of solution."

From our common ambition to be able to make digital transformations based on our own public values, this testing ground gives us the opportunity to experience in practice the extent to which values such as autonomy, privacy, data empowerment, interoperability and open standards are reflected in a collaboration environment. It also provides an up-to-date picture of the differences and similarities with the better-known collaboration environments of Microsoft and Google.