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Friday, 03 June 2016 09:24

ownCloud loses funding after Nextcloud formed as fork

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The forking of ownCloud, an open-source file syncing and sharing software company, to create a new company Nextcloud, has led to the former having its funds cut off in the US. Its German operations are not affected.

Nextcloud was announced on Thursday, Berlin time, by Frank Karlitschek, one of the founders of ownCloud, who resigned last week.

His resignation appears to have been sparked by disagreement over the direction ownCloud was taking, with claims that the community's needs were being placed second and the direction sought by investors taking precedence.

Karlitschek has joined with Niels Mache, the owner of Spreedbox, a company that has a thriving video conferencing business. Most of the team that worked at ownCloud appears to have gone over to Nextcloud along with Karlitschek.

In a media release issued by Nextcloud, Mache said: "Together with Frank Karlitschek we will disrupt the global market for file access and collaboration. Nextcloud is in the best position to deliver unparalleled long term support and services to customers from existing file access and secure communication markets, pushing innovation and capabilities to the next level."

The release said Nextcloud would offer "a comprehensive replacement and privacy-aware alternative for existing cloud services for enterprise use and with long term, enterprise grade support".

Nextcloud will feature a secure fully federated universal file access and communication platform. "It integrates with the innovative secure Spreed.ME communication platform and will be available for download as well as for purchase with the international award winning Spreedbox cloud communicator."

Forking of open source projects is no oddity, with recent examples being those of LibreOffice and MariaDB. The first stable Nextcloud release will be made in early July, serving as a drop-in replacement for ownCloud, to provide customers and users with a means to upgrade to Nextcloud.

Along with the engineers who have moved over, Nextcloud has also employed Jos Poortvliet, the former community manager at SUSE Linux and ownCloud.

Poortvliet told iTWire that "the new company is kickstarted as a healthy business: the Spreed part is booming and the ownCloud part is starting up. The combination is Nextcloud and we'll integrate the two products."

He said almost all developers had left for Nextcloud. There were three founders of ownCloud: Holger Dyroff, Markus Rex and Karlitschek. Of them, Dyroff and Rex remain at ownCloud.

In a media release, ownCloud said: "One of Frank’s criticisms concerned the need to strengthen the community. In this regard, we have been working on the creation of the ownCloud Foundation, the formation of which we announced earlier this week.

"Unfortunately, the announcement has consequences for ownCloud, based in Lexington, MA. Our main lenders in the US have cancelled our credit. Following American law, we are forced to close the doors of ownCloud with immediate effect and terminate the contracts of eight employees. The ownCloud GmbH is not directly affected by this and the growth of the ownCloud Foundation will remain a key priority.

"ownCloud will continue to deliver software and maintenance to our future and existing customer base. Support, consulting and professional services continue to be available. Product improvements will continue to be our focus as we deliver on our vision of 'Universal File Access'. We are prepared to face any form of legitimate competition, because we are convinced of the quality of ownCloud."

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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