Channel technologies, CSPs

Open365 vs Office 365: A True Microsoft Alternative?

The Microsoft Office 365 vs. Google Apps for Work battle may have an emerging third-party rival. It's called Open365 -- an open source platform that builds upon LibreOffice. The Open365 offering could also compete with a growing list of Desktop as a Service providers across the IT channel.

According to Make Use Of:

  • Open365 is a suite of office products that builds on the existing LibreOffice Online. With it, you can create, edit, and view documents in the cloud, and synchronize files across a range of different devices.
  • You can access Open365 through your Web browser, or download clients for Windows, Mac, Linux, or Android. An iOS client is even in the works.
  • Open365 is currently in beta, though there are complaints it’s very slow to use right now.

It's sounds like Open365 is available to download and deploy across on-premises servers, or simply choose the online option.

Open365 vs. Office 365: Open Source Limitations

Even as Open365's performance potentially improves, ChannelE2E certainly isn't predicting that it will disrupt Office 365 or Google Apps in the business world. Moreover, it's not quite accurate to position Open365 as a full-blown alternative to the Microsoft and Google offerings.

After all, both Google and Microsoft offer a range of email and collaboration in their cloud suites -- while Open365 sounds far more like a classic suite offering (document creation, etc.). Plus, there's no indication that an Open365 partner program will emerge. And it's unclear -- at least for now -- if or how service providers can host the offering on their own.

Still, take a closer look and you could find some partner program clues. For instance, EyeOS -- which launched in 2005 to solve online file sharing -- apparently is the company behind Open365 (though we haven't confirmed that). EyeOS in 2013 introduced an HTML5 web client that enables the virtualization of applications in a web browser. And by 2014, Telefonica acquired EyeOS -- which now has a partner program. Hmmm...

Open365 vs Desktop as a Service

In some limited ways, it sounds like Open365 may also compete with Desktop as a Service and Workspace as a Service options that are widely available across the IT channel. VMware has been gaining momentum with its End User Computing (EUC) offerings, while smaller companies like CloudNationIndependenceITMyCloudITOS33 and nGenx have a range of DaaS and WaaS options that VARs and MSPs have been adopting.

Meanwhile, the "open source vs. Microsoft" story is a familiar one, especially when Microsoft achieves critical mass in specific markets. Linux has managed to compete effectively against Windows Server on cloud and business servers. But open source alternatives to Exchange Server, SharePoint, Dynamics and other business applications never seemed to slow Microsoft's momentum.

Still, we'll keep an eye on Open365 and it's evolution as an aspiring alternative to Office 365 and Google Apps for Work.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.