How a township manages its collaboration and large files through open source --

How a town uses an open source tool for collaboration and managing large files

When a popular ski resort town needed a secure, intuitive collaboration and file-sharing solution, its IT team found the answer in open source.

Car driving inbetween ice blocks
Image by : 
Nasjonalbiblioteket. Modified by Opensource.com. CC BY-SA 4.0
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Like many organizations, governments and townships are confronting challenges that involve collaboration and sharing of large files. In today's age of widespread cloud adoption, public institutions may be tempted to view public cloud storage as a simple, low-cost solution to managing data; however, significant concerns persist around security, data protection liability, control, and platform/vendor lock-in. Open source file-sharing solutions now offer many of the same benefits as public cloud services, with the added potential benefit of secure, managed, and reliable end-user applications based on open standards.

Managing files within workflows

The internationally renowned ski resort village of Megève, France, uses open source to manage increasing volumes of data while also making it more easily accessible. Located in the French Alps, Megève welcomes more than 80,000 visitors annually as the host of multiple concerts, cultural, and sporting events, including the Tour de France. With more than 300 employees, the city’s IT department manages more than 220 workstations, 40 virtual servers, and 60 switches connected to its network.

Sharing and collaborating on digital files is vital to all aspects of daily work in Megève. Many city departments must share files securely with external partners, particularly the communication department, which produces a great amount of content for tourists. This material includes large files such as models, final proofs, and photo libraries, which must be exchanged with designers, printers, and other partners. Similarly, architect firms working on calls for town planning projects routinely transfer files such as 3D plans, which can exceed 40+GB in size.

A step-by-step approach to building relevant architecture

After initially working with a secure FTP server, employees started sharing files using public cloud solutions, which presented both a regulatory compliance issue and a potential security threat. The town’s IT department needed to offer users its own intuitive online solution. File sharing needed to be integrated within the town’s own managed IT infrastructure, where it could be controlled, managed, and audited.

The choice of an open source solution was based on several key specifications. Security was the first requirement. Taking an on-premise approach, Megève needed a solution that offered full control over its data to comply with the township’s specific security policy. Usability was equally vital if the town’s IT department was to tempt users back from using their own insecure, consumer-focused services. The town’s new file-sharing solution needed to offer the same level of intuitive, user-friendly simplicity, along with the ability to be customized to meet the needs of specific users and groups.

Managing files securely, with a clear, transparent platform

Pydio offered the authority of a well-established open source project that combines functionality, usability, and the required transparent and auditable code base. End users had a solution as simple and intuitive as their familiar public cloud services. At the same time, the software was installed on the city’s own infrastructure, delivering required levels of security and data protection. The authority regained administrative control of its own data, with the ability to manage granular rights and permissions across user profiles and individual files. Content could be securely shared and synchronized across all fixed and mobile terminals used by the local government and its staff.

Megève was also able to customize the solution’s look and feel to fit with the city’s brand and corporate identity, creating a greater sense of affinity among end users. Employees now have direct access to the service within their personal workspace, and the solution has been rapidly accepted as the official way to collaborate and share files.

Why open source should be part of public institutions’ IT strategy

The case of Megève illustrates why open source is often the best response to the public sector’s IT needs. Key advantages include:

  • Better code: Most well-established open source projects implement efficient development processes and pay attention to the quality of their code, knowing it will be public and therefore auditable.
  • Savings: Open source often brings financial advantages, such as savings on software license fees and freedom from vendor lock-in, which reduces the platform's TCO.
  • Flexibility: Open source communities are often agile and creative. They provide solutions that are customized to end users' needs and adapt quickly to new challenges and requirements.

About the author

Charles du Jeu - Charles is the CEO and CTO of Pydio, an open source file sharing and synchronization solution. Original founder of the AjaxPlorer project, Charles was able to bring Pydio's technology to a high level of excellence and adoption, with over 1 Million of community downloads and hundreds of companies using Pydio for their business needs across the world.