If you are interested in an overview of Lotusphere and the perspective of Peter O'Kelly, Research Director for Burton Group’s Collaboration and Content Strategies service, then I highly recommend this Collaboration Loop post.
IBM’s 14th annual Lotusphere conference was held in Orlando this week. This post is the first in a series that provides an overview of key themes from Lotusphere 2007, along with some projections about how IBM’s revised strategy is likely to change the competitive landscape.
Interestingly enough, it brought a comment from Microsoft:
" ... I'm curious to hear you comment on how things like Connections match up against the capabilities already in SharePoint...my honest sense is good first effort by IBM, but even the base capabilities of SharePoint exceed the people search capability of Connections (e.g., people results returned with content results, not a separate search, people results organized by their relationship to me in the corporate constellation, the addition of public contacts with Knowledge Network, etc.).
While I'm impressed that IBM have finally pulled their head out of the sand, claiming the space of innovation with products and capabilities which already exist from Microsoft strikes me as disingenuous, at best. We can argue the merits of what each vendor delivers (or promises to, in the case of a number of things shown at Lotusphere), and that's likely an interesting conversation, but it strikes me as misleading to not acknowledge that Microsoft already ships many of these capabilities, and has, in some cases, for a couple years (WSS vs. Quickr, for example)."
A couple of initial thoughts:
- First, as I posted earlier, Microsoft has changed its direction concerning Knowledge Network. The technology will now be distributed as a Technical Preview which means it will not be a supported feature of Office SharePoint 2007. So Microsoft cannot compare KN to Lotus Connections (which will ship as an official product with support services around mid-year). There is no announced date as to when KN will ship as a supported product.
- There is no tagging and social bookmarking capability within SharePoint as well. The dogear component within Lotus Connection has no Microsoft counterpart.
- Lotus Connections includes an Activities component which unifies collaborative interactions across multiple tools and allows users to organize them based on an ad-hoc work perspective. SharePoint can perhaps do some of this (there are a lot of workflow and list capabilities) but the IBM approach is somewhat unique.
- Both products support user profiles and blogging. Both products support XML syndication. SharePoint can be used for community building but the approach is different than that implemented by the Communities component within Lotus Connections. Business requirements will determine which method is best.
- Lotus Connections is a packaged solution that can be hosted or deployed on-premise. It can be deployed within a Microsoft-centric environment. SharePoint's capabilities are embedded within the SharePoint stack itself - there are pro and con arguments to each approach. But I can see a rational business case where even a SharePoint shop would take a look at Lotus Connections.
- My early perspective on Lotus Connections (including an summary of its underlying infrastructure) can be found here.