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Inspiring digital sovereignty: Product and development plans for 2021

In this blog post, we'll give an outlook on our product and ownCloud's product and development plans for 2021

By Patrick Maier

At CS3 Conference in late January, Patrick Maier presented the product and development plans for 2021 together with ownCloud CTO Klaas Freitag

This blog post recapitulates a presentation given by our CTO Klaas Freitag and Product Manager Patrick Maier to the CS3 Conference hosted virtually by CERN in late January. Before we dive into our product and development plans for 2021, let’s have a look on what ownCloud has been up to. In 2020, we’ve released a new iOS App, four major server releases, introduced Virtual File synchronization, adopted the OpenID Connect authentication standard and finally, in December, unveiled the first tech preview release of ownCloud Infinite Scale. And we welcomed a number of new team members, among them our new CTO Klaas Freitag and Ralf Schwöbel, who heads our Customer Success Team.

Introducing ownCloud Infinite Scale

After about a year of development, we released the ownCloud Infinite Scale 1.0.0 tech preview just before Christmas. It is a databaseless cloud-native platform built on Go and a microservice architecture, while ownCloud classic is a monolithic architecture that depends on a LAMP stack and syncs using a database. ownCloud Infinite Scale brings substantial improvements in performance, scalability, security.

Watch the presentation video from the 2021 CS3 Conference

In the spirit of release early, release often, we’ve already released another tech preview, version 1.1.0, and plan on releasing a new version roughly every month, until we achieve general availability.

Core competencies

The feature set of ownCloud Infinite Scale is strictly file, sync and share. It is readily extendable though; thanks to its microservice architecture with open standard APIs, microservices can be written in any programming language. As a secure and efficient data hub, ownCloud can thus integrate the tools that constitute your sovereign workspace.

While ownCloud Infinite Scale represents the future of ownCloud’s core, it is not yet production-ready, hence the tech preview name suffix.

New frontend

ownCloud Infinite Scale also comes out of the box with ownCloud Web. Written in the javascript framework Vue.js, our all-new web frontend is disentangled from the file platform code, as are all the other microservices, only communicating with each other through APIs, improving scalability and security.

Check out the presentation slides

Planning the transition

Although the general availability of ownCloud Infinite Scale will take some more time for hardening, resilience building and performance improvements, we’re already well prepared. All current ownCloud Clients and Apps are already compatible with ownCloud Infinite Scale. The new ownCloud Web frontend works with both backends. OpenID Connect, the new authentication standard used in ownCloud Infinite Scale, is available as an extension for ownCloud 10 from the ownCloud Marketplace. We are actively developing data export and inport tools and are planning an in-place migration process.

What’s next: Product and development plans for 2021

We have a lot of plans for 2021. Apart from hardening, improving, enhancing and finalizing ownCloud Infinite Scale backend, we will work on additional storage drivers, for example for S3 and Spectrum Scale. ownCloud Infinite Scale will get an event system and workflows, for example for notifications and auditing.

Improving ownCloud 10

Our work on the future core of ownCloud notwithstanding, ownCloud Classic is still very important to us and most of our users and we will support it for some time yet. This is why we, as part of our product and development plans for 2021, will adopt PHP 8 for the ownCloud Classic backend this year. For ownCloud Web, we plan to implement a number of features from ownCloud Classic and offer branding to enable all of our users to switch to the faster, more accessible web frontend. We want to enhance the extension system and productivity integrations, for example with office suites.

New workspaces

Built on lessons learnt in the pandemic, we are also working on Spaces, which are specific folders for teams or projects with custom configurations to make collaboration more nimble. Spaces can, for example, have multiple owners, their own quota and a dedicated trash bin.

The Data Hub for your sovereign workspace

Digital collaboration has a lot of aspects – workstreams and chat, mails, time and task management and productivity tools. If all of the software solutions representing these aspects are well integrated, they together constitute the digital workspace your staff uses to get things done efficiently.

We think it is worthwile to set up these tools in a way that keeps an organization in full control of its processes and data, creating a sovereign workspace. For us, digital sovereignty also means using open source software, because it enables organizations and users to know exactly what their software does and doesn’t do. These kinds of integrations are an important driver of our product and development plans for 2021.

All of the elements of a sovereign workspace have two things in common: They involve files and authentication.
Users, machines and algorithms need to be authenticated to then efficiently access storage to view, edit and create files. A sovereign workplace means being able to make files efficiently available for legitimate use while reliably avoiding illicit access.

Achieving more, together

We believe that open source software is the way to go towards digital sovereignty. Both the classic ownCloud and ownCloud Infinite Scale are open source and built on open standards. ownCloud follows an open development model and we believe in sharing code, control and responsibility. To further improve cross-organizational collaboration in the community, we’ve created a dedicated role for open source liaison, (filled by Michael Loeffler).

ownCloud Infinite Scale builds on the open source projects, namely REVA and the CS3 APIs. We use and contribute to upstream projects like, OIDC, glauth and the Go libraries. We have increased developer activity in shared repos like REVA.

In the months ahead, we want to discuss and develop joint norms with the community regarding e.g. code standards, workflows for pull requests and reviews, dependencies and continuous integration. Also, we want to try and establish a common approach to roadmaps and releases. As part of our product and development plans for 2021, we plan a hackathon for the ownCloud Infinite Scale ecosystem and are setting up an early adopter group. In short: We want to become a more visible player in the open-source ecosystem!

Patrick Maier

February 9, 2021

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