Slack open source: Top 3 reasons why companies adopt different platforms for team collaboration

Lucia Fallavena
June 23, 2022
min read

Slack open source alternatives are getting a lot of attention right now. Why exactly? Well, if you were to survey the most productive teams, you’d find a common ingredient – efficient communication. That explains the rise of team collaboration tools in 2020 and mega deals happening in the industry, such as Salesforce’s acquisition of Slack.

However, right after adopting team communication tools like Slack, companies started to notice the downside of it. We aren’t just talking about fearing that Slack will hand over your data to Salesforce. In 2020, posts like ‘Slack Open Source Alternatives‘ were all over the internet.  

Moreover, we’ve noticed a massive increase in the number of Slack users getting in touch with our team, wishing to switch from Slack or seeking “open source Slack alternatives”.What is all this commotion about? What are the reasons for increasing demand for Slack open source alternatives? Why are open source projects attractive at all?

Why do people shift away from Slack to open-source platforms?

As mentioned before, Slack open source alternatives are gaining more popularity than ever. In this article, we are discussing the top 3 reasons why customers are switching to Slack’s open source alternatives like Rocket.Chat.

Moreover, we’re backing our claims with our own customers’ words of wisdom: they’ve helped us understand better why they were looking for a Slack open source alternative in the first place, and why Rocket.Chat is their preferred choice.Without further ado, here are the top 3 reasons why customers are looking for Slack open source alternatives.

slack open source

1) Companies need to own their data and control their workspace

Team collaboration tools like Slack are closed source software, which means that their code is proprietary and only the original vendors of that software can access or change it. Also, companies aren’t able to make branded customizations or changes in the code. In a nutshell: they don’t own the software nor the data left in there – they are just paying to use it.

Slack open source platforms like Rocket.Chat, on the opposite, offer the most open and flexible licenses available for software, allowing users to:

  • Develop features and apps according to their needs, and make changes to the code accordingly
  • Fully control their communication workspace by self hosting made to its code
  • Completely customize the software’s interface as they want (whitelabel)
  • Rely on a dynamic open-source community improving the platform continuously
  • Utilize a highly secure communication practice.

Get started with Rocket.Chat’s secure collaboration platform

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Nevertheless, compliance with data regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA, seems to be the trickiest part of the equation. Because these regulations concern both user consent and security, your company’s collaboration tools must meet a large set of compliance requirements, or else you face the risk of being fined and more. That’s why companies can’t ignore ensuring strict compliance of their business tools, and Slack open source alternatives can guarantee that better.

Just look at the data - within the first year of GDPR, there were $63 million of fines issued. Naturally, no company wants to find themselves risking that much of their resources.

slack open source

The problem with Slack is that — as it is only available as a service — your own level of compliance rises and falls with the compliance of your service provider. And with the code being closed-source, you often lack insight into how your tools really work under the hood. That's why many are also looking into self-hosted alternatives to Slack.

Open source projects like Rocket.Chat, on the other hand, are compliant with GDPR and a wide range of data regulations worldwide. It offers you the choice of truly being in control of your user’s data and because of the open source code, you have full insight into how everything works.

Here's what Rocket.Chat's customers say:

Open source makes it easier because we can check what is in the code. We are a technology company, we are interested about it! Another things id the fact that we can run Rocket.Chat on our own server. It means the security of the platform relies on us, which makes sense because we've been working a lot on the improvement of our server security.
Kaysa Huttunen, Marketer at Zoner
We didn't trust any of the public chat platforms for confidentiality. The public chat platforms like Slack are a honeypot of data. Rocket.Chat is not like that.
Mike Schwartz, CEO of Gluu

2) Security concerns: what makes SaaS companies like Slack vulnerable?

As companies heavily adopted digital workplaces, data security became a top priority for them. Users aren’t just seriously worried about being “zoombombed” – they want to protect their data and avoid third-party apps to access it. In a recent research, 65% of IT leaders said that their spending for cybersecurity will increase in the next year compared to the previous year.

slack open source

That’s precisely Slack’s most significant shortcoming: lack of data security. On the other hand, it is one of the strongest selling points in Slack open source alternatives.

Since Slack is a SaaS, your data is stored on an infrastructure that is not your own, not fully transparent and not under your control. Your insight into the configuration and the security practices applied to your data is limited to what the SaaS provider allows you to. If only there was a self-hosted Slack alternative, eh? 

Moreover, you have to share the infrastructure with other customers of the provider. It is one of the most commonly emphasized downside of Saas solutions mentioned by Slack open source alternatives and other non-Saas projects.

Alosed-source software served as SaaS, where data of multiple users is stored together, is an attractive target for hackers to try to steal it and to exploit vulnerabilities. It has happened before and nothing guarantees it won’t happen again.

In contrast to it, Slack open source alternatives like Rocket.Chat have an open source codebase. It is transparent for everyone to see, propose changes, and quickly find bugs or loopholes. For example, our code is regularly challenged by a global team of white-hat hackers: security professionals that check open source software like Rocket.Chat for vulnerabilities and that work with us to fix the code for the good of all our users.

Rocket.Chat’s deployment options are also safer than Slack’s:

1) On-premise deployment

By installing Rocket.Chat on your business’ infrastructure you don’t risk leaking highly-private information with third-party apps nor rely on connectivity or external factors to access your tool. Rocket.Chat offers absolute data ownership and maximum security by keeping all network traffic on your private network, thanks to air-gapped installs. In other words, Rocket.Chat is a self-hosted alternative to Slack.

2) Cloud deployment (SaaS)

When it comes to our own SaaS platform, Rocket.Chat’s Cloud offers a more privacy-friendly setup than Slack because we don’t perform data mining on our customer's data. And we do not access workspace data unless the customer asks us to in the form of a support request, as stated in our Privacy Policy.

Here is why these customers trusted Rocket.Chat over Slack due to security matters:
You’re improving your security posture by running an on-prem communications system. We trusted Rocket.Chat because the software is on-prem, so we know it’s a secure communication platform that gives us a secure channel.
Josh Eklow, Marketing Manager at Onshore
Slack’s in the cloud. It means we're not sure about where our info and data go. That’s what clients feel. They want their safety, know where it is, know where it's going, know who has access to it, control over that.
Nic Henderson, The PC & MacHelp Centers

3) Slack cannot be used for Omnichannel Customer Support


slack open source

As customer experience has been reinvented due to the pandemic, investing in customer-centric support became inevitable for companies. For that, their customer support and back-office need the right toolset to support clients through diversified channels. The problem with Slack is that it isn’t a native customer service platform.

Slack lacks in native tools for Omnichannel, such as specific routing systems for chats and smart waiting queues. Although they offer customer service integrations, you can’t centralize both chats with customers and with your team on their platform. You’ll need to keep different tools for handling clients and to communicate with your team, which might be distracting and costly. Just add the price of Slack mentioned earlier to the minimum price of tools like Intercom and Drift.

All-in-one platforms: managing customers tickets and team conversations from a single place

Ultimately, having a single platform to handle both customers and teammates might be very cost-efficient. While Rocket.Chat’s SaaS users pay USD 2/month to have both support and team collaboration at one place, Slack users would need to pay for its subscription plus another tool made for customer experience.

Here’s why users value centralizing all kinds of messages on Rocket.Chat so much:

We introduced Rocket.Chat as a secure support channel for customers, and they really loved it. So we offer Rocket.Chat support now as part of our VIP support offering. Our chat support is a competitive differentiator for us.
Mike Schwartz, CEO of Gluu
Rocket.Chat provides all of the chat solutions I am looking for. Public channels, private channels, private messaging, Webhooks and integrations, including SMS and a website chat widget.
Nick T., Owner at a Marketing and Advertising Agency

So, when should you choose an open-source Slack alternative over Slack?

To answer this question, it’s essential to understand your business’s needs when choosing Slack or Slack open source alternatives like Rocket.Chat. You can start by listing the must-have aspects you need in the platform. The checklist below might work as your starting point;

Ask yourself: Are any of the aspects below essential for my business?

  • Have total control over my data with zero reliance on third-party apps;
  • Be aware of my communication platform’s codebase;
  • Customize the platform to meet your specific needs;
  • Have mandatory on-premise deployment;
  • Omnichannel customer support;
  • Scale and grow your operation in a sustainable way;
  • Native video conferencing.

If you said a strong “yes” to any of them, you might want to check Rocket.Chat, an all-in-one platform trusted by 12M+ users to enhance daily work activities, enabling real-time communication between teams and customers. Learn how to increase team productivity and enhance your cybersecurity by switching from Slack to Rocket.Chat. Schedule a demo today!

Frequently asked questions about <anything>

Product Marketing Manager at Rocket.Chat. Lucia keeps our readers informed about the latest Rocket.Chat product news & improvements.
Lucia Fallavena
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