Both Nextcloud Talk and the Nextcloud OnlyOffice fork are open core, offering restricted functionality, and offering full-fat proprietary extensions. Nextcloud Hub now advertises the online office as part of its key functionality, and then they tell users to buy the proprietary version if they want more users.
I understand the “beef” with OnlyOffice (but don’t share it).
What restrictions in Talk are present in the “free” version?
From the Talk product page:
- Webinars & public web meetings*
- SIP gate: dial in by phone*
*with optional Nextcloud Talk High Performance Backend
starting at Eur 4000/USD 4500
This one I find particularly disingenuous, because Talk is a product from Struktur AG, of which Nextcloud is also a part.
This I don’t understand…
SIP is VoIP, as the name implies, voice traffic going over the internet pipes.
To link it to the regular phone network you need a bridge connecting those two networks.
And that means acquiring DIDs and a different game altogether…
With few exceptions (Talkatone, Fongo, GV, etc.) nobody offers those services for free.
No, as I understand it, it’s not about bridging to the standard phone network, which, as you say, is more involved. It’s about allowing voip calls to interact with the Talk system, which doesn’t require special hardware or network services.
These extensions is a different issue, these are just additional functions that they wanted to provide through partners because they don’t have the resources to do that on their own. And they can’t change their business model. However, there is no lock-in, you can use a different office suite (collabora, it happens that they have similar limits) or once there is a different competitor, it’s possible that they implement this as well. You can run your own talk server (HowTo: Setup Nextcloud Talk with TURN server), you can compile the office suite without limits.
So I think it is better to have these options (with limits, either with pre-compiled limited version, or with more complicated setup) than not having these options at all.
VoIP calls - from NC user to NC user - work fine from my experience (in a university setting).
“Dial-in by phone” I believe is exactly that - bridging the two network.
Just like the non-free functionality of Skype, as an example…
I think the point is to allow VOIP calls from people that are not using Talk to interact with the Talk server, thus expanding its reach to those who are not users on the server. But, as you say, VOIP is all just data, and can be done in software. I’m saying that it’s not about bridging to the standard non-VOIP phone network, which involves SIP trunking services from the network provider.
A non-NC VoIP user has to use SOME VoIP service, either commercial (e.g. VoIP.ms) or your own (Asterisk).
Are you saying the ability to plug those services into Talk should be in the “free” version?
Well, they are a different issue from the Enterprise version of Nextcloud, but I consider them part of the overall issue, and were part of my original post.
It is currently possible to compile OnlyOffice without restrictions, but I’ll be curious to see if they put up barriers to that, now they know people are actually using it as open source software, and not the freemium software they really intend. As far as I know, the code for the Nextcloud Talk High Performance Backend is not open source.
But you can’t blame Nextcloud for the shortcomings of OnlyOffice. I’m not sure if it was Collabora or OnlyOffice, but one could be compiled without restrictions. It wasn’t easy and not well documented. In that case you would say that Nextcloud should officially bundle apps that are completely open source (no paid/enterprise features)?
I’m pointing out that some functionality is restricted to the proprietary version. At this point, I’m interested in being clear on what is the case, not what should be the case.
The part I’m trying to clarify here is that there’s no special service that Talk would have to provide to allow interoperation with VOIP calls - it’s just a software feature that can be enabled or disabled.
I would say that offering optional integrations with third party software of all kinds is fine. But, I think once you start creating your own forks of open core software (including the deliberate restrictions), making them a default part of the Nextcloud distribution, and doing a deal to sell proprietary versions to unlock the restrictions, then you enter murky territory, that, taken with all the other issues, starts to make the commitment against open core look very questionable.
What functionality? Ability to interoperate with external VoIP services?
If that’s NC’s biggest sin, I can live with that…
If you’re happy enough with that, that’s great. But, as I say, leaving aside the question of what we find acceptable or not, the point is that this is a matter of restricting functionality to proprietary versions. Whether particular functionality is important to you or me is not really the point.
There was someone recently inquiring about this.
So since day one, we said we wanted to follow the Red Hat business model. And RHEL is an enterprise build of Fedora. That is what Nextcloud Enterprise is. Now yes, the difference between RHEL and Fedora is far bigger than NCE vs normal Nextcloud, we don’t want to be maintaining two products so the main difference is currently the theme, default apps and the different updater server, through which we can deliver certain fixes relevant for large deployments faster. Will the difference get bigger in the future? Maybe, but it would only affect large instances - clusters at least.
This entire RHEL strategy benefits home users but is a bit less nice to a specific type of businesses:
Those who monetize Nextcloud by offering ‘support’ to other companies without a backup support contract from us.
I guess perhaps the people who complain work for one of those and that’s why they are unhappy: they get paid to support Nextcloud but don’t want to have to pay our engineers for backup in case something goes wrong. Others that do this include @autoize which also heavily complained lately about being limited in this.
Now to be clear, companies that use Nextcloud themselves and don’t pay us - totally OK. If you decide it is worth the risk of not getting a subscription, that is your right, that is exactly what the AGPL is for. Go for it. Good luck. Sure, I believe that it would help you AND Nextcloud to get a subscription, but if we can’t convince you of the value of our work, or if we don’t offer any value for you for whatever reason, that is on us. Nothing wrong with you.
(I do NOT feel that we have to go out of our way to make your life easier, ref the discussions about the production channel and other things. Sorry. We make Nextcloud for home users. We make it as easy as possible for them. If you, as a company, use that, well - it isn’t meant for you. Nextcloud Enterprise is. My personal motivation has NEVER been to make companies happy. It has been to help users protect their private data. And companies pay the bill, so we make them happy. But if they don’t pay, why care?)
I DO have a problem with the companies who’s ‘business model’ is to essentially offer fake support to OTHER companies for 2 main reasons:
- It is bad for business users. They often think they got a real support contract. And a support contract is like an insurance: you have a problem? It gets fixed. Well, that is if you have a contract with us, indeed. But not if you got a contract with a random third party that actually can’t fix any real issue because they don’t employ a dozen Nextcloud developers but, maybe, a sysadmin or two. It is like a health insurance that only covers a splinter in your finger but doesn’t do anything if you break a leg: a problem in the Apache setup they can fix, but if there is a real problem in S3 support for your storage back-end, they have to ask on our forums or github and hope somebody fixes it . In effect, you are not paying for support but for somebody who asks on our forums for help . We end up getting panicked calls from other people’s customers who are very upset and don’t understand how they could see a Nextcloud logo on a website and paid for support but don’t get help. Of course, those IT companies break our trademark guidelines and what they do is illegal. We try and contact them and point out that their dishonest business practice is bad for customers and that they violate our trademark but it is hard to solve it without suing dozens of companies and we prefer to do work on Nextcloud rather than pay lawyers. We’re not Oracle If we offer them to become partners, and we’re usually real nice, offering support for free or very little for their existing customers or the very small ones (under 50 users), they still complain that it costs money for bigger customers. Well, yes, we have to pay to make Nextcloud better and we work for you, that costs money… Anyway, if you want to talk about that - chat with our partner manager at the next conference and be amazed
- Of course, this behavior not just hurts Nextcloud enterprise users and customers but also takes away resources from other areas that would have helped private users. These fully paid people go bother volunteers on our forums (like in this and other threads) asking for help (!!!) and bother our engineers who are nice and want to help home users - some of these IT companies even go as far as to create fake accounts for their employees on github and this forum to ask for help in multiple ways, or complain on issues pretending to be home users. Or emailing our employees privately (recently a dozen of our engineers all got the same email from a company pretending to be a private user with a large deployment… right…), all to get free support for their PAID customers… And of course, the money they get paid by their customers does not get used to improve Nextcloud but goes to the shareholders of whatever company they work for.
There’s a nice third-party blog about this issue here:
Now they break our trademark guidelines with their dishonest business practices, but there is otherwise not much we can do - the GPL of course allows this. And when it comes to small companies that do some support for home users, or various charities that host for people, we are happy to give them permission when they honestly come and ask us (and that happens, luckily). And again, I have no problem with companies that use Nextcloud themselves and don’t pay us. Just those that offer fake support.
Now I don’t enjoy these conversations, as they are deeply negative, and some people seem to insist that ‘doing open source’ means ‘working for other companies for free’. I find that ridiculous, but such entitlement is a real problem in open source and a constant irritation and demotivating factor. I’d like to propose we close such discussions and block such users. If you get paid by a business with such deceptive practices, you don’t belong on these forums. This forum was for home users, volunteers who help each other…
It’s most definitely not. It’s an enterprise build based on a fedora snapshot: fedora itself is nearly rolling. RHEL/CentOS freeze software versions at release time and then backport every security fix into them. They are extremely different products.
I have no problem with people monetizing their work, of course; but I ask: is an enterprise-level, but unsupported “CentOS” based on NCE possible? (I am not asking you to make it, only if the source is out there)
Well, we think as well of users that might use such storage back end and which are still interested community users. And what I like about Nextcloud that you have all these features and nobody does say that is only a feature for enterprise users. However, some of these “community users” have surprisingly large setups. Perhaps we should be a bit more careful when community users with very few contributions ask for quick solutions.
And as community user, I don’t want to work for their support for free.
If you buy a support that is much cheaper than the original one, well there is a reason for that.
that was running through my mind for weeks now. and i wanted to create an own thread for it (not that i am someone being able to help big times).
this is true… and @jospoortvliet as much as i understand that NC GmbH is aiming towards bigger companies… maybe you wanna (again) put thought into offering support for HU/SBOs as well. directly. it could even earn you some bucks.
I run 7 Nextcloud « Community » Servers for different clients.
It ranges from 3 to 50 users.
I don’t fakely advertising on Nextcloud.
I am honest with the client about this open source project saying that i can give low support (little debuging, backup) but if they have a bigger issue, they have to take a paid support at nextcloud.com
They pay me for the support of computers and services (Nextcloud can be one of them)
But i don’t have special support form Nextcloud Inc because i never run on a disaster situation and the cost is too expensive. I always have a good full backup everyday for rolling back to 6 days if i want.
I would be happy if i can find a partnership with us for a fair price because i don’t really need support for the moment but the dev needs money.
But i’m really annoyed by the Collabora partnership they had back in the days whereas LibreOffice Online where better to embrase. Then they have another partnership with OnlyOffice which really put brakes to the « unlimited connection » compilation (old documentation …) and they advertise it so much… i feel really sad . Because it’s in default with Nextcloud Hub