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  • Staying connected is the first rule of thumb for remote teams.

    Due to the coronavirus disruption, we are forced to lead a remote life, be it shopping, working, interacting with friends, and colleagues. During these uncertain times, a slight deviation from focus can momentarily reduce productivity, especially for team collaborations.

    Hence, it’s essential to utilize a good tool for better communication. While there are many channels available that foster a collaborative environment like emails, phone calls, shared tasks, and virtual meetings, instant messaging is indispensable.

    Why?

    Real-time messaging

    The best thing about messaging platforms probably is that they facilitate real-time messaging. As a result, it accelerates response time to keep your team members “close” and leads to better decision-making.

    Also, when you put people on the spot through call or video conferencing, decision making might be compromised as it may pose pressure on the recipient.

    But, messaging platforms uplift this pressure by giving them a few precious seconds when they can process their thoughts, formulate their response, and come to a decision best for your entire discussion.

    Transparency

    Transparency is crucial to foster productive teamwork. Messaging platforms cover this aspect by promoting flawless communication where everyone is approachable, just a message away. It breeds no ground for confusion or hesitancy.

    These platforms are great because people can be clearer about their feedback, praises, supports, and advice that help reinforce the goals and directions of your organizations. It levels everyone and supports a team’s hierarchical nature.

    Record Keeping

    Chat histories, I tell you, can be saviors at times. You can review all the communication you had with your team, which helps in many ways.

    Imagine you just had a discussion with your senior over a project. In case you missed a beat, you can still go back to the same chat and use the information for better clarity.

    This, in turn, boosts performance and decreases the likelihood of errors.

    Cost-efficient

    cost effective

    Instead of investing in overpriced phone call plans, expensive software, travel plans, and whatnot, you can simply go for messaging platforms. You can find both paid and free ones depending on your requirements.

    Slack is one such messaging platform that people use these days extensively. The hype is due to its flexibility, features, and easy-to-use interface. And it is becoming bigger with time, especially after acquiring HipChat and Stride.

    However, some aspects might land you in a boat where you may want to find an alternative solution to Slack.

    • Firstly, Slack offers too many features that you might not find necessary for your organization. So, what does the point have features you wouldn’t use?
    • Secondly, the cost. Options like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams are available out there but are costly and might not be the best fit for your company financially.

    So, what’s the solution for your instant messaging requirements?

    Open source messaging platforms!

    But, here’s a catch. Open source can be critical for your business needs, especially when sensitive information is involved.

    In this case, choosing a hosting solution for your open source messaging platform is the best option. That way, you can protect your communication and data behind a secure firewall.

    For that matter, let’s look at some of the best Slack alternatives, along with corresponding hosting suggestions.

    Mattermost

    Your desire to have a secure and flexible open-source messaging platform can come true with Mattermost to foster smooth team collaboration.

    Mattermost is written in React and Golang. It runs on Linux using PostgreSQL and MySQL. You have the option to share files, chat with people, and collaborate within an organization. It provides advanced permission, allowing you to restrict activities and clustered infrastructure for high site availability.

    Build insightful workflows and invite your team to collaborate with no worries about data privacy or security. You can benefit from existing integrations or craft custom workflows to scale your customer base.

    Mattermost offers faster deployments by connecting systems, people, and files with workflows. It provides a private workspace where you can resolve queries and carry out meaningful discussions. The platform securely integrates with popular DevOps tools such as Git, CI/CD, bots, etc. You can control and customize the interface for better user experience.

    Mattermost offers on-premises and private cloud so you can fully control your data while leveraging enterprise-level security, scalability, and availability.

    You can choose to self-host Mattermost on a cloud VM or else go for a secure hosting solution mentioned below.

    Kamatera

    Deploy Mattermost with Kamatera and enjoy instant messaging on your Windows, Linux, and smartphones.

    It gives you the option to choose the version of Mattermost along with your preferred data center. There are a total of 13 data centers situated on four continents.

    The price for VMs starts at $6/month for 1 GB RAM, 20 GB SSD, and 5 TB visits. It also includes a 30-day free trial.

    A2 Hosting

    Improve your workflow with faster communications by hosting Mattermost on A2 Hosting. It’s streaming-fast SwiftServers power the hosting solution to make it 20 times faster.

    A2 Hosting gives you the flexibility to customize your server with only the required resources you would like to pay for. Control your hosting account completely through root access for editing server files. Additionally, you can select your desired Linux OS and re-load the server with an on-demand operating system.

    A2 Hosting commits 99.90% uptime, along with the best security practices to protect your account. The price starts at $5/month for 20 GB storage, 512 MB RAM, and 2 TB transfer. If you aren’t satisfied, claim it anytime money-back guarantee.

    If you need help in setting up Mattermost on your server then you may hire a freelancer.

    Nextcloud

    With the fully on-premises hosting solution of Nextcloud, you can reap the benefits of digital collaboration without any security and compliance risks.

    Collaborate with your team efficiently and share documents, email them, get on with video chats, and manage calendar with zero data leaks. Enjoy next-level integration with Nextcloud files, Nextcloud talk, and Nextcloud Groupware. Using Nextcloud files, you can utilize a Universal File Access on-premise and synchronize the messaging platform with collaboration capabilities.

    Nextcloud Talk offers text chat and audio/video conferencing through mobile and browser interfaces and includes SIP integration and screen sharing. You can use Nextcloud Groupware to integrate your contacts, calendar, mail, etc. that help organize workflow seamlessly.

    Nextcloud is fully compliant to provide extensive enforcement of data policy, auditing capabilities, user management, and encryption. For that matter, it has HIPAA and GDPR compliance. You can host Nextcloud on solutions like Kamatera and RoseHosting.

    Kamatera

    Hosting Nextcloud on Kamatera and leverage its affordable plans. To get started, just choose your Nextcloud version, a plan depending on your business needs.

    Its data centers are located at:

    • New York, USA
    • Texas, USA
    • California, USA
    • Toronto, Canada
    • Amsterdam, the Netherlands
    • Frankfurt, Germany
    • London, UK
    • Petach Tikva, Israel
    • Rosh Haayin, Israel
    • Rosh Haayin (2), Israel
    • Tel Aviv, Israel
    • Jerusalem, Israel
    • Hong Kong, China

    The price for Nextcloud hosting starts at just $4/month for 1 GB RAM, 20 GB SSD, and 5 GB visits.

    RoseHosting

    RoseHosting has been continuously providing quality VPS solutions since its inception in 2001. It optimizes your Nextcloud server configuration manually for enhanced efficiency and speed. All its hosting plans include free SSL certificates.

    They walk an extra mile for their customers by providing a fully managed support from server configuration to software installation.

    RoseHosting offers enterprise-grade SSDs for better performance. It backs your servers weekly along with fast data recovery, just in case. However, you can also opt for daily backups as an add-on. Additionally, it offers root access and Firewall security.

    If your site is hosted elsewhere, it offers free migration with its expert Linux Admins. RoseHosting claims to offer faster response times – 5 minutes for email support. The price starts at $24.95/month for 1 VPS, 1 GB RAM, 2 TB data transfer, and 30 GB SSD.

    Do you need help to host Nextcloud? Hire from Fiverr.

    Rocket.Chat

    Improve your team productivity by using the easy to use yet efficient platform of Rocket.Chat to interact with your team members. You can replace usual emails, which take longer response times, with this instant messaging platform.

    You can include participants by mentioning them with @username for immediate notification. Besides, you can add use @all for making important announcements to your group members.

    Rocket Chat shows the entire chat history, allowing members to join or leave any time they want. It provides audio and video calling options in addition to screen sharing to fuel your discussion. You can share files, projects, and ideas with asynchronous or real-time chat.

    By accessing the source code, you can customize, add, or extend new functionalities as and when you need it.  It provides admin transparency and username restriction to facilitate a secure workspace. Besides, it maintains security with two-factor authentication, SSO, end-to-end encryption, and OAuth providers.

    Some of the other features include unlimited user addition and removal, channels, messages, searches, document uploads, and guests. With the LiveChat option included, adding chat widgets to a mobile application or website is possible to make the most of team chats.

    It uses advanced machine learning technology for real-time and automatic message translation during communication. So far, it has translated to 50+ languages. You can also import data from other software like Slack using the effortless data importers.

    You can host Rocket Chat on DigitalOcean.

    Digital Ocean

    Digital Ocean, getting started with this platform is easy, and it does not require you to be an expert.

    All you need is to set up a DNS record using your domain name, for example, chat.myorganization.com. You can install Rocket.Chat with just one click from DigitalOcean.

    Zulip

    Express your thoughts and ideas utilizing the real-time chatting platform of Zulip. It also employs the model of email threading, where you can have meaningful conversations. It allows you to communicate clearly using bullet lists, italics, bold, and more. You can even discuss math with your teammates using LaTex.

    Team chats do not have to be serious all the time; lighten up your team’s mood with funny emoji reactions.

    It uses a drag-and-drop feature that you can use while uploading files. It offers Markdown code blocks along with syntax highlighting to discuss codes with your team.

    This messaging platform offers @-mentions, desktop notifications, announcements, audible notifications, alert words, emails on missing important messages, and optional digest emails every week.

    It offers more features like search, chat history by joining a stream, starred messages, analytics tools, one-on-one or group conversation, and online members. Furthermore, you can edit your sent messages, save drafts, thread conversations by topic, dozen translations, customizable registration and login, video calls with Zoom, Big Blue Button, or Jitsi Meet.

    Its authentication providers are Google, Apple, GitHub, GitLab, LDAP, SAML, and more. You can choose Digital Ocean to host Zulip for greater security.

    DigitalOcean

    Deploy Zulip on DigitalOcean by choosing a plan with a minimum of 2 GB RAM to get started. First, you need to create your DNS record along with a new droplet from an easy-to-use user interface of DigitalOcean. You can then configure your server.

    DO offers 1-click installation for Zulip applications through its control panel or the DigitalOcean API. It offers periodic backups, upgrades, high-level security, and regular monitoring to future-proof your messaging platform.

    Let’s Chat

    If you have a small team, you can use the self-hosted chat application, Let’s Chat.

    Let’s Chat works on the BYOS model, which means Bring Your Own Server. It delivers a persistent messaging experience, so you don’t miss any information. It offers multiple private chat rooms with password protection to maintain greater privacy and security.

    Get new message alerts or notifications to catch up with all the discussions. Let’s Chat includes mentions like @username and @all for addressing specific persons as well as for making announcements. It includes image embeds and Giphy search, file uploads from local drives, Microsoft Azure, or Amazon S3.

    You can always get back to important conversations by using its search feature. It provides local, LDAP, or Kerberos authentication, REST-like API, Hubot Adapter, and i18n basic support along with transcripts and multi-user chat.

    Conclusion

    Indeed, there’s a solution to every problem. Times like these test our real patience, and to counteract them, you need to find relevant options available around. But don’t worry; these Slack alternatives help you stay close to your team and improve your productivity with more discussions and exchange of ideas in this world full of possibilities!