Self-Hosting Journey Continues

Microsoft helped the journey to independence from them this week: EXPLOINSIGHTS Inc. (EI) signed-up for Project Online service, but after several days of frustration, the decision has been reversed.
Was it a bad program?  No.  Or more correctly: we don’t know.  The service was never added to EI services portal.  Even after about five or more emails to the Microsoft help-desk.  So we never got to USE the program we PAID for.
We have been evaluating OnlyOffice as an alternative office suite to the Microsoft Office 365 products.  That journey is still underway, as EI’s customers use Microsoft products (because their customer, the DoD, uses the same product), and compatibility is a concern; BUT OnlyOffice is definitely a contender.  The self-hosted server EI installed for online creation/editing of the EI cloud storage server Nextcloud is proved to be stable and reliable, which is an encouraging start.
With a need for a Project Management software package (and in the absence of a Microsoft option, even one we paid for!) the journey has expanded this week, and several Open S0urce Project Management packages are being evaluated, including:

  • Open Project
  • OnlyOffice Community Server (Project app)
  • Gantt Project
  • Redmine

These all have pro’s and cons of course.  Web portal offerings are most attractive as they allow for Customer visibility of programs, but they seem to be the least configurable so far.  The Open Source ‘Gantt Project’ product  is excellent and is a virtual Microsoft Project replacement BUT it runs on Java script, which is a system security weak-point.  And it’s client-side desktop install only, so no server protection or easy customer access either.  Of the four, Open Project has been abandoned.  It was easy to install and it has a great web portal BUT you can’t add a new task easily: it always appears at the end of a schedule, which makes for complicated-looking Gantt charts.  The OnlyOffice portal is better, but it does not allow for dependencies across milestones, which is counter-intuitive and makes it easy to miss important implications for e.g. a slipping milestone/task.
Redmine has potential: it’s a server-side install BUT the system depends on third-party plugins to get really good features, and these are always an area of concern from a security perspective (and they make installation more difficult too).
As has proved to be the case for Office suite software, finding a replacement for Microsoft Project is not “easy”, but it’s a rewarding journey because of the greatly improved awareness it creates regarding the options.
Much more to do before EI can officially drop Microsoft, but the journey continues.