Nextcloud has developed to a synonym for private clouds since its foundation just three years ago. Year by year the company gathers all the Nextcloud-developers, fans and contributors to summon at the Nextcloud Conference. As expected, the company made many announcements that will continue to shape the solution’s future - one of them is surely Nextcloud 17, but there are other stars as well, including the first mention of Nextcloud 18. So what did the conference bring to the users this year? Let’s see what has been on the schedule.
Yesterday, a cooperation between IBM and Nextcloud was announced even before the Conference started. This collaboration between both companies catches up the demand for scaling large storages while delivering a perfect match for storing, sharing and working with these large volumes of data. We all known that data and data storages are growing even more and still the largest challenge is to get all these storage spaces managed somehow so the pre-Conference already started with some kind of big news.
Shortly afterwards, Nextcloud did also announce some news in regard to a former cooperation. Together with HackerOne, the company went through a very transparent process when it comes to finding and reporting security issues in the Nextcloud-code. Nextcloud has decided to double the security bug bounty, going up to 10.000 US-Dollars for a remote execution vulnerability! This proves not only the way of real open code but also a certain trust in the own solution - which will finally be a benefit to all users.
Third, it came as expected and the curtain was opened for Nextcloud 17 which is currently available in version 17.0.0 (Release Candidate 1) and is about to get its final state later within this month. As I got already used to I worked with the betas and was once again astonished my the maturity of the solution at this point so there won‘t be big changes up to the final release anymore. Even in an early state Nextcloud 17 continued the way of the previous versions since the initial release in 2016 and comes with lots of improvements. Amongst them were the remote wipe-feature to forcibly clean files from remote devices, for example in case they are stolen or the previously announced Nextcloud Text which already a new distraction-free and collaborative rich text editor.
Besides, the security of documents was target as well: When using Collabora Online or ONLYOFFICE, documents can be processed and equipped with a digital enforcable watermark. The famous Two-Factor-Authentication can now be set up straight from the first login, enforcing security and even one-time-login tokens can now be issued by admins and delegated to groups admins over the web UI. Furthermore, the Outlook add-in gets a possibility for a secure mailbox (the body of the mail is protected here) and the LDAP-writing support we already knew from the beta now makes it possible to manage users from Nextcloud. Global Scale together with IBM (I just mentioned this at the beginning) joins in, too so there are plenty of changes in Nextcloud 17.
Continuing to purse the focus on security, the feature of Virtual Data Rooms will be new as well: Say you want to give a third party the chance to review and perhaps even edit a number of documents but prevent data leakage as much as possible - a most common scenario. A Nextcloud virtual data room will then enable you to create guest accounts for the third party team and share files to those as well as enforcing the setup of a second factor for secure authentication when the guests create their account. In addition, users may use File Access Control to ensure no files can be downloaded by the guests and can configure Secure View to ensure the users can still read and (when shared with editing rights) modify documents, while the documents are watermarked when on screen. Especially the watermark-feature is a feature that was on many personal wishlist for quite some time and does already work well as I found out while working with Collabora Online!
As if all this wasn‘t enough already the bunches of Nextcloud-clients on iOS- and Android-devices as well as the Desktop-client got updated as well. While the Android-client in version 3.8 comes with U2F, TLS 1.3, Remote Wipe and will have FIDO2-support (thanks to a cooperation with Nitrokey), the iOS-client 2.24.0 gets better performance, a new share view and the „classic“ dark mode as well as the possibility of making photos straight from the app. Not missing the desktop client in version 2.6.0, this one gets a new login flow and now supports client-side SSL certificates for authentication. The new Windows-build also supports TLS 1.3 so all the clients should be in an even better shape now.
There are a lot of news pushed out from Nextcloud in the orbit of this year‘s Nextcloud-conference and everyone using this solution will benefit from those features. Still it is astonishing to see how Nextcloud keeps the pace up and thinking of the fact that this product is „just“ three years old I think that there is plenty of room to become a manifest in the private cloud-genre. Being an user with a strong technical background it is also great to see the growth of Nextcloud over the time and I think the story hasn‘t been completely told so far...