We are proud to announce that Klaas Freitag, one of the original ownCloud Developers, has returned to lead our engineering and development as Chief Technical Officer of ownCloud. Klaas takes over as the development of ownCloud Infinite Scale hits the Tech Preview release, also known as version 1.0.0. We are deeply grateful to Felix Böhm who encouraged, incubated and promoted developments that constitute ownCloud’s innovative edge.
Klaas is into software since the age of fourteen, and was a typical Commodore VC20 early adopter. In 1996 he graduated FH Nuremberg with a Diploma in electrical engineering and microelectronics and started to work in development of software for the Unix’oid platforms right after his studies. In the late 1990s, Klaas embraced Linux and the open source movement. As a contributor to various projects like KDE and openSUSE, he learned a lot about how communities work and how open-source software can change everybody’s life – including in business. To this day, he is an advocate of free software in the business environment.
From 1996 to 1999, he worked as a software developer for Heitec in Erlangen. From 1999, he worked at SUSE which became a part of Novell. Working with ownCloud since 2012 as one of the first employees, he has helped shape the face of ownCloud from the beginning, particularly the Desktop Client. His field of expertise in those days was file syncing. He was quickly promoted to be Team Lead for the Desktop Client, rising to Head of Engineering before leaving for SUSE, where he shaped development for corporate clients as Engineering Director Enterprise Cloud. In the last two years, he has lead the software development of laboratory equipment manufacturer Heidolph Instruments. Now, he returns to ownCloud. As CTO, Klaas works with all teams to continue the growth course in business and innovation.
But now, we think Klaas should have the opportunity to introduce himself. So we arranged for a quick interview, socially distanced, of course.
What will be your main focus?
For me, the innovation with the new ownCloud Infinite Scale platform is very exciting and, to be honest, a great challenge. In it, I see the potential to move ownCloud to a completely different level of enterprise file sync and share. The PHP-based system has brought us a long way, and is a strong and reliable workhorse nowadays, but the new platform offers so many chances to correct problems we had before. Building on ten years of experience with ownCloud, ownCloud Infinite Scale can be the base technology for a lot of important enterprise level use cases that are also popular computing challenges.
Generally, I am very confident that open source is the right approach for this kind of software. I envisage ownCloud as a strong player in the open source ecosystem. The goal is to make data sovereignty not only attainable but also seamless on different levels. Also, I see ownCloud as more than a Web App. It is a platform, consisting of a number of stable APIs that both our in-house developers anf third parties can rely on, and a diverse set of clients for many platforms, including the web. It exists within a network of an involved community whose members collaborate to build consistent, efficient and significant services.
You have worked with ownCloud before, and in a similar role – what made you return?
I wanted to correct the mistake to have left in the first place 😉 Since I started with ownCloud in a Hackweek at SUSE in 2011, I felt that we are working on a very important piece of infrastructure. With the new direction that ownCloud has choosen technically, as I said, I see big potential to bring that into the future. That was very appealing. The second reason is the team: With a mixture of old colleagues from the former days and excellent new hackers, ownCloud has built a phenomenal team, and I am very happy and proud to be a part of it.
In your opinion, what is the most exciting part about the new ownCloud Infinite Scale – and about writing it in Go?
Go is one of these new and fascinating programming ideas, combining an efficient and easy-to-use language with a huge community. It makes so many problems just disappear. One example: Packaging up a working ownCloud system on the huge variety of linux systems used to be kind of a pain. With Go, it is now just one binary, and it actually just works! Changing the programming language is a decidedly bold move, but I also see it as a necessity. The PHP code base has matured and is a bit on the traditional side nowadays, so for me it is totally exciting to reach out for new solutions – based on the experiences we made along the way. With microservices and Go, ownCloud Infinite Scale is a first class citizen in today’s world of cloud deployment strategies, while still maintaining the base idea of data sovereignty. So exciting!