‘Open-Xchange is carrying out the next logical step for web apps,’ says CEO Rafael Laguna.
Today, CEO of open-source software vendor Open-Xchange, Rafael Laguna, gave CBR a brief but rather exciting demo of Open-Xchange’s App suite – a web-based open source program that pulls in your email, calendar, contacts, music, text documents and even social networking feeds all on to one pretty, easy on the eye interface.
It even has a dedicated mobile site, with plans for a mobile app coming in 2014.
The App Suite now incorporates OX Documents using OS Text, which allows for the easy editing, collaboration and sending of text documents without the hassle of downloading, uploading or losing any formatting that happens with other programs like MS Word or Open Office.
Open-Xchange is flaunting 50% year-on-year growth, and with a user base of 80 million, the App Suite is going places.
One of the main selling points is the fact that it doesn’t need full integration with, say MS Word or Open Office, file formats when opening a file, it just replays the actions necessary to recreate the documents.
Formatting problems within the jungle of different document types are out the window, if OX Text doesn’t recognise something it just ignores it and replaces the problem with a placeholder.
The OX Text team is from the creators of Open Office, who were looking to start a new project, and that’s where Rafael stepped in and hired them, and started them on this project instead.
So if it’s open source, where does Open-Xchange make money? Well, rather than selling the product directly to customers, OX plans to build an ecosystem of partner resellers and offer support to big enterprise users. The company will also commercialise OX Apps by taking a cut of sales from businesses building custom versions of the software for profit, as well as selling support and services.
Laguna gave CBR valuable insights into what he thinks makes this work so well, and also the future of open source software.
"What we’re (OX) trying to do is create this innovative ecosystem. What open source has done for the Internet, we want to recreate that with open source for apps," he says.
"What’s currently going on is everyone is making these silos, these data centres. Google Drive, Facebook and so on. But Facebook can only be searched by Facebook. Google apps can only be catered from Google. And people don’t trust these guys. They have features that make you vulnerable."
Hel happily points out that the key to success is a good looking, open source platform that you can trust.
"For cloud apps to work they must be available from several providers – so moving data can be possible. If you can’t take your data with you, you’re screwed."
Features which allow you to move data from A to B is a big selling point at the moment, says Laguna. With trust lost in companies like Google and Yahoo through the ongoing Snowden revelations, people are looking to migrate their data elsewhere, and this is where OX can step in.
"We say, okay, make sure for a cloud service that one: it is available from several providers. Two: the data is must be transferable. Three: if you feel you don’t trust anyone, the service must be available as software, and you must have the capability to install it yourself.
"So there we have it: provider choice, data migration tools, and we have the software to move off the cloud, or make our own cloud."
When asked about the trustworthiness of Open Xchange, Laguna comments: "With the internet, it’s been proven that the most trustworthy software is open source, as it gets peer reviewed. Also, always the most innovative software is open source, you can change it, build upon it, and improve it.
"So fourth rule, I would say, is that software should be open source, or at least, supplied with the source code.
"That’s what we’re doing. That’s why we think cloud app provider needs to be open source. Most of them are just service providers. We’re not a service provider; we’re not Salesforce or Google, where we would set up the service directly for people. Instead, we have people who know how to provide services."
Laguna said OX’s mission is carrying out what he sees as the next logical step for web applications.
"Look at google, they run millions copies of Linux, now just the next logical step is doing that for applications. Software can be nice, there’s a lot of ugly open-source software. We gave the Open Office guys a chance to collaborate with something amazing and it works!
"Developers are waking up to the fact they need to create these services, and it’s boosting us as consumers are waking up to the fact they need to have a provider they can trust. I think is a good time for us to offer a trustworthy platform. Snowden is not going away."