Collabora Online Support – Helping Organisations Make the Most of Open Source

Why Open Source

Open Source software is now, unquestionably, a critical element in most tech landscapes. In fact, it’s next to impossible to build a significant technology stack without it today.

Apart from the obvious cost/price advantages of Open Source software, it also delivers a host of other business benefits. Being open, users can ‘lift the lid’ and look inside to see how the software works. This level of insight not only better enables them to suggest improvements, but it helps deliver a level of confidence and control that simply isn’t available with proprietary solutions, developed and maintained in private. Try asking Microsoft, or any other big brand software company, to change their solutions to meet your specific requirements?

Open Source software enables flexibility and agility far more effectively than proprietary alternatives. Like us here at Collabora Online, you can choose a vendor that is not afraid of empowering their users to join in with the innovation if they want to.

Open Source in a Commercial Environment

So for ambitious organisations Open Source is a ‘no-brainer?’ Yes, but it needs to be managed and implemented correctly. Professional organisations looking to unlock the benefits of Open Source should also proactively look to minimise risks.

The Log4j software vulnerability is a good example of the potential risk of the widespread introduction of Open Source software into mission-critical infrastructure, without the necessary support.

By its very nature, community built Open Source software has a more informal approach, which on one hand is a great advantage – allowing anyone to participate. On the other hand, it can present a problem should, like Log4j, something go wrong. The lesson to be understood is that any software implemented on critical infrastructure needs be adequately supported. Should an issue arise, it can be addressed in a timely fashion and organisations are not left alone, scrambling to sort it out themselves!

Collabora Online Support – The Enterprise-Ready ‘Wrapper’

Collabora is a dedicated Open Source business. We are passionate about the benefits of Open Source software and we’re committed to helping organisations take full advantage of them. Importantly, though, like many of our customers, we’re also a commercial business so we understand the pressures and imperatives they operate under. So how do we make Open Source software enterprise ready and Collabora Online a safe and reliable alternative to big-brand, proprietary solutions? Enterprise-grade support’s the key.

Simply put, we deliver all of the generic benefits of Open Source software ‘wrapped’ in a commercial, enterprise-grade maintenance and support package. This, effectively, insulates our customers from the more informal elements of Open Source software development, whilst enabling them to confidently enjoy all the obvious advantages.

This commercial ‘wrapper’ is delivered by a full-time team of expert engineers who can be contacted directly via a dedicated support platform. They are focused on maintaining a product that works for our customers, which includes tested security updates, long term supported packages (LTS) and going the ‘extra mile’ to do the boring, routine work to make a reliable commercial product as apposed to a volunteer project. They also help maintain the functionality, security and market relevance of Collabora Online by providing significant long-term technical investment in code review, linting, fuzzing and extensive automated testing from the community.

Most importantly, they help ensure that any problems discovered are easily reported and dealt with quickly, e.g. so when your Operating System auto-upgrades and document standards slide – you have us to help fix it and keep you in business! Users of Collabora Online are never left alone to deal with any problems.

The enterprise-ready benefits of Collabora Online are further strengthened with a range of support packages that are put together to address the varied needs of our customers, and include full and complete technical documentation, comprehensive SLAs and signed security updates.

So any organisation that’s looking for a real alternative to proprietary office solutions, and to free themselves of an over reliance on the big-brand vendors, can be confident that Collabora Online delivers all of the enterprise-grade features they need, combined with the benefits of Open Source in one attractive package.

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Collabora Online Powers Diagrams in ownCloud 10.9

New Frontend and Diagrams in ownCloud 10.9

The latest version of ownCloud Server brings various performance improvements, including significantly speeding up how ownCloud clients examine the contents of user accounts. This is especially beneficial for those users with a lot of files and large directory structures. The update has also introduced a new frontend. The “richdocuments” extension of Collabora Online supports both the old and new frontend and integrates flawlessly into either of them. At the same time, a new document type has been introduced. The ownCloud Server can now open and edit Diagrams.

Using Diagrams with ownCloud & Collabora Online

The use of the new Diagram file type is very straightforward. Below we are describing how to create a Diagram from scratch inside the new and the old interface and how to edit exiting Diagrams through the ownCloud server web interface.

Accessing documents with Collabora Online from ownCloud’s new frontend

Create or Open a Diagram in the Old Frontend

To create a new diagram inside the old web frontend, simply click the plus icon within the folder navigation above the file list. In addition to the familiar document types (word processing, spreadsheet & presentation), you will now also notice an orange Diagram option. Select this to open an empty diagram document. Diagrams are displayed in a light orange icon and include the extension .odg in their file name. Existing Diagrams will be opened through a click on the file.

Create or Open a Diagram in the New Frontend

The handling within the new frontend is very similar. The new web interface includes an updated new button over the file listing. Click it and choose the new Diagram option to start a Diagram from scratch inside the current folder. Diagrams are also displayed in a light orange icon and include the extension .odg in their file name. Existing Diagrams will be opened through a click on the file or through a context menu that opens with a right-click.

A Diagram opened in Collabora Online 21.11

Edit Diagrams with Collabora Online and ownCloud

Diagrams can also be created outside ownCloud and Collabora Online using Collabora Office Draw or LibreOffice Draw. Diagrams offer a variety of options to edit documents with (vectorized) graphics, shapes, text, FontArt and the smart connector tool that has been introduced in Collabora Online 6.4.8. Furthermore, it is of course possible to work with tables and charts. Diagrams is suitable for creating print products such as flyers or posters, but also organigrams, flow charts or technical drawings. Working within the Diagrams module is very intuitive as it is similar to the approach of creating a presentation in Impress. Further information on the range of functions can be found in the Draw online help.

Discover Collabora Online and ownCloud

Collabora and ownCloud are proud to offer a combined commercial solution including Collabora Online. Based on the LibreOffice technology core, we continue to develop this functionality in response to the evolving needs of our customers. Find out more and request your free demo.

 

 

About ownCloud

ownCloud develops and provides open-source software for content collaboration, allowing teams to easily share and work on files seamlessly regardless of device or location. Hundreds of millions of users worldwide already use ownCloud as an alternative to public clouds – and thereby opt for more digital sovereignty, security and data protection. Find more information online at owncloud.com or follow @ownCloud on Twitter.

About Collabora Online

Collabora Online 21.11 is our latest enterprise-quality release. It’s suitable for large-scale deployment, and comes with SLA, enterprise support with signed security updates as well as interaction with product management, helping to direct our development priorities. Collabora Online integrates flawlessly into Nextcloud, ownCloud, Seafile, and many of the major file sync & share, groupware and hosting solutions. It’s ideal for organisations that want to collaborate on documents, without losing control over them or compromising on privacy. With the ability to host it on your own hardware or to integrate it into a trusted environment, Collabora Online is the ideal online office suite for digital sovereignty. Enterprises interested in using Collabora Online can check out our home page for more information on partner integrations and online demos. Hosting and Cloud businesses that wish to add Collabora Online to their product portfolio can become a partner. For any questions or tailored solutions, do not hesitate to contact hello@collaboraoffice.com. Keep up to date on all latest developments by following us on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube or Mastodon.

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Collabora Secure View – The Secure Way to Share Data and Support Productivity

The ability to easily share data is at the very heart of personal and corporate productivity – it’s what helps develop competitive advantage and success, but, arguably, it’s never been more of a challenge. In a modern distributed work environment, outside of the traditional office setting, it’s vital to closely control the data you share, including where it resides, who can access it and what they can do with it. Collabora Secure View has a unique way to enable you to do this.

How to Share Without Sharing

At a very high level, all businesses want to be able to easily share documents, be they presentations, spreadsheets, new designs, etc., both internally amongst fellow staff members and externally with partners and other valued third-parties. Crucially, though, they don’t want to lose control of these documents, which often contain valuable, mission-critical data. This is a common business challenge that Collabora Secure View solves: stopping your secrets leaking!

Rapid Product Feedback & Iteration

Ironically, Collabora Secure View came about as a direct response to a critical business security challenge identified by a leading car manufacturer that approached our partner ownCloud for a solution. This is a real-life example of the value of customer /sales feedback, which, in this case, identified a business-productivity issue – exactly what Collabora Secure View is intended to enable – secure sharing of data that enables reliable and productive collaboration.

Ways Not To Do It?

There are two popular ways to do this wrong.

1. Unreliable, in-browser redaction

Those who adopt this approach use a front end that loads in a browser. They then transmit all of a document’s contents to the browser, often simply by converting it to html, where it is displayed. The main problem here is that in doing this they give the whole content of the document to anyone viewing it, which they can save, modify or pass on – it’s simply not secure!

Often a watermark layer is included on top of the document, but this can be reasonably easy to remove with a little knowledge of how to delete a few html nodes, revealing any restricted or hidden data. This is similar to the horrifying redaction mistakes we’ve seen in the past – and is insecure by design.

2. Hand all your keys to Microsoft

An alternative approach is to use Microsoft’s Digital Rights Management solution, which uses end-to-end encryption. This way of doing it is very secure, but comes with some important business trade-offs!

Firstly, you need to hand over all your document keys to Microsoft; you typically upload your keys onto Microsoft’s Azure Cloud – which provides a central point of failure. Secondly before a device can be given a document key – it is critical to this model to ensure that the end-point is secure and will correctly apply policies such as: “you cannot print this document.” Unfortunately this means that your entire client software stack has to be cryptographically signed from when the PC starts, through to Windows, and all the client software on top – with revocation and other complexity alongside. As a result, you loose control not only of your document keys, but also your entire client software stack, which is then controlled by a single vendor. On top of this, you also need a centralised Cloud infrastructure to share your keys – which seems to be close to the ultimate vendor lock-in.

This approach brings many potential problems, a remote server outage outside your control can loose you access to your most critical documents. Similarly if this is done right, a revocation event can force an immediate upgrade of your client software from the operating system through to the Office suite to regain access to your documents.

When done correctly, this “surrender your keys” scheme can provide the required security benefits, but at some significant expense in flexibility – particularly that you need to share data only with client devices that are fully signed by Microsoft: cutting out Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, etc.

Collabora’s Unique Solution

Secure View, which was developed in partnership with Dell and ownCloud, enables you to securely share all of your valuable data to any un-trusted client via the browser. How can this possibly work?

This high-degree of data security is achieved because your documents never leave your site, staying safe behind whatever security measures you choose, such as firewalls, VPNs and reverse proxys. Collabora Online sends pixels of a document, which can be shown to users on screen, the document itself remains safely in your server room. Only the sections visible on the screen are sent, and even then it’s only the rendered pixels, never the original document. This guarantees that no amount of trickery can extract your documents against your policy. Should the worst happen and a document view ends up where it shouldn’t, there is no way for the unintended recipient to extract the document.

Obviously, for ultimate security we wouldn’t even share the pixels with the client – but this tends to make the document a little hard to read. Having said that – it’s important to avoid even screenshots of the latest product plans being shared so we secure the pixels by including watermarks often with the viewers’ name in them on the server side. This ensures that accountability is obvious to the viewer and stops them getting over-excited about sharing the wonderful new product features, etc. prematurely.

Watermarked Image Using Collabora Secure View

Partners can apply arbitrarily powerful policy rules on top of our granular per-user access controls, customising watermarks and permissions, including the ability to edit, print, share or download. In addition server-side logging can trace who accessed what and when.

Robust Federated Sharing

Each server provides security by keeping the documents on your site – but how can we capture the benefit of a centralised solution when to comes to sharing? Many of our partners, such as Nextcloud and ownCloud, have already solved this problem with an ad-hoc standard. Their interoperable federated sharing allows you to mount file shares from friendly remote servers, in effect creating a custom Cloud of partner Clouds. This means that you can easily create direct share links with other users across your partner and even subsidiary ecosystem as well as to external third parties.

A Real Alternative That Gives You Control

Collabora Secure View provides easy-to-use secure data management functionality that allows you to control who can access a document, what they can see and what they can do with it. Importantly, this is done using your own infrastructure so you can protect digital sovereignty.

“Collabora Online is built with security in mind. We implement a robust, layered approach that helps give our customers the confidence in our products and the peace of mind they demand,” said Michael Meeks, General Manager, Collabora Productivity. “We love to work closely with partners to enrich our products with great new security features that meet their customers needs – it’s what we do.”

Secure View represents a practical and straightforward way of sharing important data that protects data sovereignty, security and integrity.

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