With my company we now have fully moved out of Slack and into Rocket.Chat. We’re hosting our own Rocket.Chat instance on a server in an Amsterdam data center.

We had been using Slack since 2016, and used it both for ourselves, and with some network partners we work with. Inviting in (government) clients we never did, because we couldn’t guarantee the location of the data shared. At some point we passed the free tier’s limits, meaning we’d have to upgrade to a paid plan to have access to our full history of messages.

Rocket.chat is an open source alternative that is offered as a service, but also can be self-hosted. We opted for a Rocket.chat specific package with OwnCube. It’s an Austrian company, but our Rocket.chat instance is hosted in the Netherlands.

Slack offers a very well working export function for all your data. Rocket.chat can easily import Slack archives, including user accounts, channels and everything else.

With the move complete, we now have full control over our own data and access to our entire history. The cost of hosting (11.50 / month) is less than Slack would already charge for 2 users when paid annually (12.50 / month). The difference being we have 14 users. That works out as over 85% costs saving. Adding users, such as clients during a project, doesn’t mean higher costs now either, while it will always be a better deal than Slack as long as there’s more than 1 person in the company.

We did keep the name ‘slack’ as the subdomain on which our self-hosted instance resides, to ease the transition somewhat. All of us switched to the Rocket.chat desktop and mobile apps (Elmine from Storymines helping with navigating the installs and activating the accounts for those who wanted some assistance).

Visually, and in terms of user experience human experience, it’s much the same as Slack. The only exception being the creation of bots, which requires some server side wrangling I haven’t looked into yet.

The move to Rocket.chat is part of a path to more company-wide information hygiene (e.g. we now make sure all of us use decent password managers with the data hosted on EU servers, and the next step is running our own cloud e.g. for collaborative editing with clients and partners), and more information security.

Well, yes, some of that social ‘cost of leaving’ plays a role. Yet:

It’s part of my company’s journey to better information security and data protection. Leaving silo’s, and Slack is just as much one as is Facebook, although with a different business model, is part of that. Similarly we’re starting to use our own cloud, in order to not use Google docs, Onedrive and the like. Our clients have different (and contradictory) rules against some of those silos, and we want to offer our own environment in which we can collaborate with clients as well. So our cloud and our Slack replacement run on our own server in a Dutch data center. This makes it easier to show GDPR compliance as well.

Within the company I’m the only heavy Slack user, taking part in about half a dozen Slack spaces. Still 90% of my Slack interaction is within my company.

Importing our Slack history into Rocket.chat, as well as that the URL of our Rocket.chat space is called Slack, help make a soft landing. Similarly Rocket.chat’s interface is similar to Slack’s.

Our cloud integrates well with Rocket, better than with Slack.

For mobile having another app on it is hardly an issue, given we all have half a dozen chat apps on it already.
For desktop it will be less automatic to make the switch, but adding Rocketchat to the dock will help.

So, there will be an adaption cost, but I’m optimistic it will be low, given our starting point. Over time I’ll reflect on how it went.


Screenshot of Rocketchat with previous Slack historty loaded

Replied to a post by Frank Meeuwsen

Wat me bij deze diensten toch erg interesseert is de kosten van overstap voor de overige gebruikers. Met name de mentale overstap. Ik kan me voorstellen dat je huidige conversatiepartners in Slack zelf ook meer Slack-koppelingen hebben. Dan is het handig om alles bij elkaar in één Slack app te hebben. Rocketchat voelt dan als “weer een extra app” wat transitie en acceptatie lastiger kan maken. Ik ben benieuwd hoe je daar mee om gaat!

Rocketchat looks rather good as a Slack replacement! Open source, data on our own server. It has an import function for Slack exports so now that we have set up our own rocket chat server (named slack to make the switch easy on the mind), I’m importing all our Slack content over. Much better than staying with Slack which at our current usage level runs at about 75 Euro / month, whereas our managed hosting solution is 12 Euro / month including a 1 hr SLA response time. It integrates with our cloud, allowing direct drag and drop of any files.