Cloud technology has been great for organisations of all types across the world, delivering inter-related ecosystems, keeping costs down and driving productivity. However, there’s still a key problem that needs to be addressed – there are simply not enough clouds. The market currently resembles an oligopoly, with a handful of providers dwarfing all others in size, scale and reach.

The world’s 26 richest people own as much as the poorest 50% and just 100 companies (mostly in the oil industry) are arguably responsible for 71% of the world’s carbon emissions. It’s tempting to draw a sneaky correlation between wealth inequality and climate problems, but that would be unscientific (to say the least!) and not the objective of this article in any case. However, there is some evidence that we’re also well on our way to creating data oligopolies. IDC reckons that half of the world’s data will be stored in clouds by 2025, so if dominance of the cloud industry continues as is we can be quite sure of exacerbated industry inequality.

Of course, sensible regulation can do much to offset the imbalances in the cloud industry, but technology has its part to play too. There must be credible user-friendly and administrator-friendly alternatives to the giant public cloud players. At Corteza, the Digital Work Platform for Humanity, we’re determined to deliver a private cloud solution for every organisation that values its data. Ideally, we’d like to see a culture where organisations look firstly at their private cloud working requirements, then complement them with public cloud offerings. That would represent an important inversion of the current state of affairs.

Balancing the global cloud economy is a big, yet still attainable objective. Overall, it’s about keeping things practical and not denying common sense. Here’s a few things we considered as we got up and going:

It all Begins with Identity

Federated identities are increasingly important technologies, in particular when it comes to supporting hybrid software strategies. Though only a fraction are presented at the frontend, at the heart of the Corteza platform we support over 50 different providers of federated identity – and it’s not difficult to extend this support. This approach allows us to find common ground with most web application software in the world and is a key enabler for organisations who wish to inexpensively integrate third party software into their Corteza deployment. Tailoring your private cloud work platform should be straightforward, after all.

Politics is local, Trade Crosses Borders and Standards can be Global

Corteza promotes standards as a catalyst for driving global community and adoption. A work platform must be architecturally “open”. Growing an ecosystem of providers is impossible without establishing shared standards for communication, storage, API’s and other services which impact integration with third party software. Private Corteza clouds can be implemented and configured to support local decision-making and legislation by default (as opposed to the complex and sometimes legally fuzzy, retro-fitted approaches promoted by the giant, centralised public clouds), while our standards-based approach encourages efficient online collaboration with just about any modern provider.

Independent Institutions have a Role to Play

Markets are a great mechanism for fulfilling many social requirements. However, independent institutions serve a valuable role in regulating activity in the public interest. The Corteza project is owned and operated by the Commons Conservancy Foundation. In the world of software, knowing that your work platform is safe from trademark, copyright or patent games is source of stability. Knowing that the software code will always be available to you, irrespective of whether you choose a service provider to host the platform or self-host, is another serious advantage.

User Experience (UX) is Key

While not a fool’s game, expecting users to downgrade to inferior software UX in return for creating a better or safer digital world hasn’t had overwhelming success as a marketing or commercial tactic. While “you are what you eat” has had delivered some strong results for the organic food market, it helps a lot that the UX of organically grown food (i.e. its taste) is often better than that produced through intensive farming methods. If you spend over 8 hours a day in front of your computer, you’ll know that poor UX can be a big distraction from your productivity. Corteza places strong emphasis on UX, ensuring that is pleasing, modern and relevant across the platform portfolio.

Corteza is actively fashioning itself as the Digital Work Platform for Humanity. That’s a big statement of intent, about as ambitious as it gets – and we’re not going to get there overnight. Our policy of social inclusion rolls out the welcome mat to anyone who can usefully contribute. However, this embrace of diversity must be accompanied by a co-ordinated long-term strategy in order to be effective. Good intentions alone are not sufficient to create real and lasting change.

To help us implement Corteza as the Digital Work Platform for Humanity, we’re in the process of creating a range of programmes, based around the platform, which structure its outreach, broaden its expertise base and inform its future design. The programmes categories are as follows:

  • Humanitarian
  • Ecological
  • Educational
  • Health
  • Public Sector
  • Commercial
  • Digital Economy
  • Localization
  • Accessibility
  • Security
  • Identity and Privacy
  • Compliance

All programmes will be related to at least one other programme, and some programmes will be related to all, creating a programme infrastructure where the activities of any given programme inevitably make the platform as a whole stronger and avoid duplication of work elsewhere. For example, making Corteza Accessible touches on everything we do.

At the moment, we’re crafting an official “purpose” for each programme with the above considerations in mind. These purposes will be voted upon by the Corteza Board of Directors before being formally adopted by the project.

The Corteza project will be free forever to anyone with access to the internet. Our community culture will necessarily be global, emphasizing the interconnectivity and cause-and-effect relationship between everyone, irrespective of their background. Corteza programmes exist to allow us structure our activity so that we drive this global conscience and so that everyone wins. Your positive contributions will be welcomed with open arms and, as my colleague, Mia Arh, states, there’s so much more to a technology project than coding.

Interested in checking out Corteza right now? Head over to https://latest.cortezaproject.org and sign up to the community server that runs on Corteza!

I have to admit I feel uncomfortable exposing myself as a woman in tech. Yes, I’m a woman and I indeed work in IT. It appears completely natural to me and I don’t see myself working in any other field.

According to Women Who Tech, 25 % of IT of tech positions are filled by women (source) and out of them, only 11 % hold a leadership position. A 2018 Women in Tech Survey reports the top three challenges women in tech are still facing are not being taken seriously due to the gender perceptions (63%), having no female role models to look up to (42%) and the gender pay gap (39%).

I think it’s a pity I hear more and more women around me calling themselves “not-technical”. I feel sorry for women my age who regret their study choice as they realized they have limited career options and are now stuck. I wish that my sister would be as excited as I am when she tells me they’re using robot arms at the pharmacy where she works (instead of being absolutely terrified of them). And I would prefer my friend’s girlfriends to get involved in our geek discussion instead of rolling their eyes 😉

Fortunately, my experience as being “woman in tech” is generally positive and rewarding. In my opinion, IT is a wonderful place where creativity meets technology and I would like to encourage more women to consider it as an exciting career opportunity since it has many benefits:

  1. Working in tech doesn’t necessarily mean coding
    In IT there’s an important spot for less technical skills as well: product planning, UI design, UX research, digital marketing, social media strategy… Management! A career in technology can bring you anywhere.
  2. Possibility of Remote Work
    Not all professions have the privilege or possibility of remote work, but IT-related jobs definitely do. Remote work gives us a wider pool of opportunities and the possibility to work internationally.
  3. Unconventional Lifestyle
    Working flexible hours and working from home office allowed me to improve my lifestyle. I can go to the gym in less crowded hours and I don’t eat in restaurants anymore because I can cook lunch every day. Work on a rainy weekend and go skiing on sunny Monday? Why not?!
  4. Constant opportunities to grow
    With constant change and improvements in technology, it’s almost impossible to fall into a routine. You’re always pushed to upgrade your skills which means constant learning and discovering your new strengths (both professional and personal).
  5. Exceptional community
    Tech world is full of unbelievably smart and talented people who are mostly welcoming and willing to help or mentor. It’s simply inspiring to be part of such a community.
  6. You can make a difference
    It’s empowering to be able to transform cutting-edge ideas into the real world. You can be part of something actually meaningful to you and work on projects that are aligned with your values. The work is mentally challenging and the tangible results are rewarding (and appreciated!) so the chances are small that you’ll ever get bored.

I’m thrilled the Corteza project is making a step towards fixing a problem of diversity in IT with a majority women in the board of directors and I’m excited to be part of the organization that truly breathes and lives its values.

The Corteza Community Server always runs the latest version of Corteza. Each user has access to the complete solution, with Messaging, CRM, the Low Code platform and the Application Ecosystem. When you log in for the first time (just after signing up), you enter Corteza Messaging. This is when the fun starts.

1. Messaging

Corteza Messaging opens by default and allows you to interact with other Corteza community members in public channels or with direct messages. You can richly format your messages, add images, files, emoticons, reactions, reply in threads, edit or delete your messages and a lot more.

To enter public channels hit the “Browse channels” button. This shows the channel popup, which gives you the option to enter any public channel. We recommend you to enter the first 6 channels, because these are the most active ones.

List of public channels

The complete list of public channels (as of July 5th, 2019) is:

#1. Welcome
Here you can introduce yourself or simply say hi. In this channel you can see new people entering the Corteza project and talk off-topic with others.

#2. Village Square
This channel has interesting announcements related to the project or just for general chit chat. For the latest news, sign up to this channel.

#3. Help with Installation
If you have any questions about installing your own Corteza server or about how to configure it, ask the experts over here.

#4. Core Engineering
The technical team has their discussions here. If you’re interested in the technology behind Corteza, new features being built or if you want to contribute code, this is the channel for you.

#5. UX (User Experience)
The place for UX thoughts, suggestions and improvements.

#6. Marketing
In the marketing channel Corteza’s marketing activities and results are shared and discussed. You can see in this channel how the project is growing over time, get interesting marketing insights and you can learn how you can help promoting Corteza yourself.

#Admin_CRM
If you want to manage or customise your CRM and have questions, join this channel.

#Admin_Messaging
If you want to manage Corteza Messaging and have questions you can ask them here.

#Corteza Board of Directors
Stay up to date with the latest activities of the board of directors

#Ecosystem_Wekan
Wekan, the open source Trello alternative, is going to be available inside Corteza. Follow developments here.

#Ecosystem_LibreOffice
LibreOffice Online is coming to Corteza. Follow developments here.

Various “#Programme – (programme name)” channels
These are the places to discuss the different Corteza programmes.

2. CRM

Corteza comes with an advanced Customer Relationship Management platform, built on the power of Corteza Low Code. The CRM boosts an intuitive design and gives a 360 degree overview of customers.The CRM on latest.cortezaproject.org is fully featured. You can insert or modify record data without problems. You can also enter the “Admin panel” and see how the Modules, Pages, Charts and Automation rules are set up.

How can I enter the CRM?

The CRM, or any other app within Corteza, can be opened in two ways:

  1. Click on the [+] next to the Messaging tab on top. This opens the app menu, where you can select the Corteza CRM app.
  2. Click on the 4 squares icon on the top right and select a new panel. The app menu is opened for this panel and you can use the CRM right next to Messaging!

 

 

3. Low Code

Corteza Low Code is an environment that allows the creation of business applications without the need for programming. The environment has an easy-to-use module builder and a drag and drop page builder, allowing you to arrange and position different categories of data and information blocks: forms, lists, charts, social media feeds, and more.

How can I enter the Low Code?

Opening Corteza Low Code is similar to opening the CRM. It’s an app you can select in the app menu that appears when you open a new tab or panel.

What can I do in Low Code?

Low Code works with namespaces. Each namespace is a different app. In all namespaces, with the exception of the CRM, you have full permissions to manage records and enter and try out functions in the admin panel.

4. Jisti Video

Corteza comes with a Jitsi integration. You can open a video conversation here with other people that are on the Corteza Community Server. For the best experience, open Jitsi in a panel, right next to messaging (as shown in the image below).

5. Google Maps

You can open Google Maps inside Corteza, just as shown in the image below. It’s a small app, but a handy one when you are using Messaging or the CRM and need to find a location quickly.

6. Wekan

Wekan is an open source Trello alternative that is being integrated inside Corteza. You can check out this app to see the current state of the integration.

Image from https://wekan.github.io/

 

The Corteza Community Server is where the Corteza community lives. If you want to check it out please come join us at https://latest.cortezaproject.org.

 

 

According to Wikipedia, “Technological Sovereignty” is a political outlook that information and communications infrastructure and technology are aligned to the laws, needs and interests of the country in which users are located.

As the Digital Work Platform for Humanity, the concept of technological sovereignty is baked into Corteza. However, technological sovereignty on its own is not sufficient for a modern economy. Corteza implements at least three other key ingredients:

a) Open Standards and Interoperability

Almost every major public cloud (e.g. Office365, Google’s G Suite, Salesforce, Slack) now supports open standards to a lesser or greater degree. Corteza actively drives open standards support along with support for other non-standardized yet mass adopted protocols and services. Maintaining interoperability with major clouds is important. Corteza helps your organisation avoid isolating itself by ensuring that collaboration is always possible. Economies are open, your key work platforms should be too.

b) Insistence on Platform Trustworthiness

Others need to be able to see and inspect the rules of the game i.e. the software code and architecture itself. The percentage of information and commercial exchange on electronic platforms continues to grow locally and globally. Trade of any type should require trust and confidence, in particular when it comes to sensitive messaging and records management platforms. Being 100% free and open source is a major advantage for Corteza, allowing any number of parties anywhere in the world to adopt the platform confidently and at the minimum of cost. With all Corteza platform development permanently committed to the public sphere, all parties can be sure of a balanced long-term relationship.

c) Great User Experience (UX)

The importance of good UX cannot be underestimated. If users reject your choice of work platform because they find the UX unacceptable, then the scale of the adoption task gets harder by at least an order of magnitude. Corteza places great emphasis on delivering a platform with a familiar look and feel to users i.e. on being a credible private cloud alternative to the market leading public clouds. For CRM, Low Code records-based management applications, Messaging and third party application integration and presentation, Corteza delivers a feature set and UX to comparable to any major player.

Join our community server at https://latest.cortezaproject.org and try out Corteza today!

The Public Sector Case for Corteza – Secure Private Cloud Record-Keeping and Engagement

Before Corteza came along, have government and public sector IT departments ever had 100% independent Digital Work Platforms upon which they could operate? I don’t know the answer to this question, but if deployed examples are a fair measure, then the answer is that little if any choice previously existed. Backed by the Commons Conservancy Foundation and with a truly modern feature set and architecture, Corteza is one such private cloud solution.

The public sector case for implementing Corteza is clear:

  1. The business of governing is often the business of record-keeping. Corteza offers the most flexible open source records-based management system available, allowing your organisation to scale up to all manner of requirements.
  2. Standardised data formats ensure optimum cross-system compatibility. Your data will never be locked into a software vendor again and tax payer revenue will never again have to fund expensive migrations.
  3. With Corteza CRM, you get all the power of an enterprise class CRM at a fraction of the cost. Relationships should be built on the most trustworthy platform available.
  4. Corteza Low Code allows you to build as many individual records-based applications as you wish. Even better, you can execute imports and automations between these applications.
  5. Designed to scale, Corteza can be used to service entire populations. Citizen engagement has never been easier nor more secure.
  6. Corteza One delivers the tools to build your digital independence gradually. The 100% open architecture and standardised identity management portfolio integrates seamlessly with well known public clouds while simultaneously allowing you to build a private cloud of applications with more sensitive data security and privacy requirements.
  7. An upcoming mature implementation of LibreOffice Online (https://cortezaproject.org/cib-and-crust-technology-announce-partnership-to-create-the-libreoffice-online-corteza-distribution/) means that sensitive documents can be securely created, edited and stored within the Corteza platform and all in your preferred formats.
  8. Corteza Messaging is a state-of-the-art, private cloud solution with a familiar look and feel and designed to be simple to use. Extending real-time communications beyond your firewall to external users and customers improves interaction and feedback, allowing your organisation to deliver the most dynamic service level possible.
  9. Public infrastructure should be owned and managed with the public in mind. Corteza, the Digital Work Platform for Humanity, is mandated by the Commons Conservancy to operate in the public interest.

See the project for yourself at https://latest.cortezaproject.org.

With a university degree in Social Science, much of my early adult life was spent debating the equalities and inequalities of life with my fellow students. Admittedly, I wasn’t the student with the most erudite or succinct points of view (and probably never will be!), but one thing became crystal clear to me: While social inclusion can be the goal, it’s often useful to think of it as a discipline and responsibility to be constantly maintained and improved. Exclusion can be structural, but inclusion can be too.

When forming the board of directors of the Corteza project, we went out of our way to ensure that the board had a majority of women. We also recruited a proud member of the LGBT community. We set the bar high, with the criteria of prior proven leadership in their field being compulsory. In the end, we achieved our goal, something which is startlingly rare in open source projects – a board of directors not dominated by men.

However, let’s face it, though it’s a step in the right direction, this is still not a 100% socially diverse board. We have more work to do with regards to casting the net wider in our recruitment efforts. As Corteza attracts wider and wider audiences we intend to profit from this exposure and fulfill our responsibility.

Next on the agenda for the Corteza project is to recruit Chairs for our outreach programmes. These are roles which determine how the overall Corteza project meshes together from a strategic perspective and include the following categories:

  • Humanitarian
  • Ecological
  • Health
  • Locali(s)(z)ation
  • Accessibility
  • Commercial
  • Public Sector
  • Educational
  • Identity & Privacy
  • Compliance
  • Security
  • Digital Economy

Once again, we intend to drive diversity of representation among the programme Chairs and, once again, we will only recruit those who have proven credentials relevant to the specific programme in question. This is a voluntary role and the “give” is one hour of your advice per month to help determine a programme strategy and keep it on track.

If you think you or someone you know might fit the description, please don’t hesitate in reaching out to me here on LinkedIn or sign up to https://latest.cortezaproject.org and open a conversation with me there.