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Olivia Brenner, LORIA - 18/02/2016

OpenPaas::NG: A new-generation collaboration platform

OpenPasS

The French government is supporting the OpenPaas::NG project under the Investments for the Future Programme, to the tune of a total of €10.7M. Funded by Bpifrance and led by Linagora, this project in partnership with the COAST project team in respect of the research element seeks to provide a holistic solution for a new-generation virtual office for businesses and public administration offices.

An innovative open source solution for collaborative tasks

OpenPaas::NG is a four-year R&D programme, undertaken by a consortium of three innovative SMEs (Linagora, XWiki, Nexedi) and two public laboratories (the Ecole Polytechnique’s Computer Science Laboratory and the Lorraine computer science and applications research laboratory). This new platform, which can be deployed in the "Cloud", will also incorporate conventional communication functions (email, calendar, contacts, etc.), a smart social business network, collaborative real-time publishing and other functionalities, such as automatic minutes of virtual meetings.  OpenPaas::NG is intended to be a long-term solution capable of providing an independent French offer in a field primarily dominated by US players such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon.

Sharing and editing data in total safety

Every collaborative project requires the ability to share and above all to edit documents simultaneously by several people and for changes to be available to everyone in real time. The Inria Nancy - Grand Est COAST project team is working on replication algorithms ensuring compliance with changes made by each participant. It has developed different sorts of algorithms, capable of supporting large numbers of users simultaneously on large documents.

 These algorithms also enable the deployment of collaborative publishing tools according to various topologies and in particular on a peer-to-peer network, enabling independence from conventional centralised solutions: “You use the resources of the machines available to you and take advantage of the network while sharing the information only with the desired recipients. It’s possible to collaborate without relying on a centralised service such as Dropbox or Google Drive,” said François Charoy, the team leader.

Indeed, if the government has chosen to support the OpenPaas::NG project, it is because it intends to guarantee data confidentiality, including when using Cloud resources. With funding of over €1M for the research element, the Coast team will focus its work on confidentiality and trust, taking into account the particular constraints of large-scale collaboration between multiple organisations. Whereas 15 years ago, many had doubts about the value of real-time collaborative publishing, it is its widespread use today that has given birth to this ambitious programme.

OpenPaas::NG was initiated by Bpifrance as part of a Skills Clusters Framework Programme, which seeks to strengthen the position of French companies in growth markets by building long-term collaborative relationships between industries, service providers and research organisations. Following its establishment and its accreditation by the Cap Digital skills cluster, the project was selected for funding by the French Directorate General for Enterprise.

Keywords: COAST Open source Networks Service oriented computing Collaborative work Replication

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