Free messaging and collaboration software?

During the pandemic years, businesses and people had to be operating from homes, from all corners of the world, to collaborate and continue to function.

However, digital infrastructures were not built to be ready for such a transformation suddenly, and outages and even cybersecurity breaches became more common. Even recently, tech giants such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft, which provide much of the backend digital server infrastructures for the world, experienced major and minor outages in the past few years.

The notion of “cloud” is affordability, scalability, and availability (including anywhere). But, what happens when the cloud infrastructures you rely on for internal and external communications break down? What can you do?

The key idea is being prepared. And the answer? Open source.

Two of the most common requirements for modern communication, whether internal or external, are collaboration, and messaging. What are the options? While there are many open source and freemium options, we will briefly point out to two options you can explore to replace or augment your SharePoint/Workspace and Teams/Zoom scenarios.

1. Seafile (collaboration)

Seafile is a cross-platform file sharing, file versioning, file backup and storage, and wiki knowledge management system that works for Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows, and even terminal clients. There are two versions of Seafile, the free Community Edition that you can host on your own, or a paid Pro Edition that offers support. For most of us, the Community Edition of Seafile will suffice as an alternative or option when existing enterprise SharePoint or Workspace goes offline. Visit seafile.com.

2. Jami (messsaging)

Unlike Teams and Zoom, the open source Jami is a peer-to-peer technology quite similar to now less popular Skype. Jami provides audio and video calls, screen sharing, messaging, and online conference functionality. Since it is peer-to-peer, you do not even need to host a server yourself. You can simply designate one node as a “Rendezvous point”, and this node would become a de facto “server”.

Jami is free, and so in times of need or crises or offline traditional digital infrastructures, it can provide much needed communication functionality securely and quickly. The Jami peer-to-peer client is available on Android (including Android TV), iOS, Linux, and Windows. Visit jami.net.

Agile and redundant

Whether you are planning public relations or digital marketing campaigns and need to have a shared file repository of assets and working files, or to collaborate with your team in situations where you either do not have or no longer have access to your cloud storage, you need to consider resilient and redundant offerings in case things happen – and they do.

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