This is a really intriguing announcement with important implications. If you take the Atlassian deal which integrates a leading wiki solution into SharePoint, then take the alliance with NewsGator (i.e., Social Sites) to integrate its feed syndication platform with SharePoint, and then add in Telligent's Community Server for improved blogs and social networks - you end up with reasonably complete coverage of the expected capabilities in a social computing platform (albeit based on "partners to the rescue").
The good news: People have at least one partner option in many of the social software categories to deliver solution which leverage a core SharePoint platform investment.
The bad news: For Microsoft, I think this really does rip the cover off the notion that SharePoint's out-of-the-box social software features are all that good - people can pretty much ignore them and proceed right to the partner gallery. This approach solves a huge tactical challenge for Microsoft but should leave people wondering how Microsoft could have missed the boat so poorly and is essentially asking the market for a "mulligan" with partners taking the new shot. These deals continue to be partnerships Microsoft seemingly directs. I still would like to see more of a viral approach where Microsoft publishes how to swap-out its blog or wiki engine etc. In general, I prefer customers to be able to make their own selection from multiple options rather than have the core vendor offer one lucky vendor in each category.
The ugly news: In terms of market perception, IBM is falling behind on execution (or so it seems to me). I continue to hear concerns regarding how expensive Connections is just to get the Profiles piece for instance. I also am still waiting to see more growth in terms of partner alliances. Finally, some people have told me that they are looking for more of a Connections "stack" that does not require them to navigate through the rest of the IBM portfolio (especially those that are looking at Lotus software for the first time - perhaps not wanting to expand dependencies on SharePoint).
Microsoft goes in and says "whatever your problem is, SharePoint fixes it". IBM goes in and makes it complicated by having to tutor people on its portfolio (e.g., Connections, Quickr, etc). Even though I believe IBM is being more forthright (many business situations are not magically solved by a single product), they are getting out-executed when it comes to social computing even though the competitive product (SharePoint) is not a complete framework.
Bringing the value of social networking to SharePoint
... Providing a scalable and integrated application your organization can depend upon, these two .NET platforms enhance collaboration and workflow. By positioning Community Server next to your existing SharePoint application, you unlock several key integration points:
- Fully Integrated Experience Community Server is fully integrated into SharePoint through single sign-on and custom SharePoint WebParts along with deep support for SharePoint management of these new capabilities.
- Enterprise Grade Blogging Utilizing Community Server’s Enterprise grade blogging product users of SharePoint can interact with Community Server blog content, allowing the user to view blog content in SharePoint and read, comment on, and post content. Community Server’s built in support for rich media, moderation tools, permissions, and more bring SharePoint blogging to a whole new level.
- Feature Rich Forums SharePoint users will benefit from the incredibly rich Community Server Web 2.0 message boards with full support for read, reply, and posting all within SharePoint. To unlock the full features of the forums, users can still go directly into their Community Server forums.
- Social Streams Community Server’s new Social Streams feature is additionally available in SharePoint. Similar to Facebook style user activity you will be able to browse a chronological list of updates from what your friends are doing both within SharePoint and Community Server.
- Rich, detailed Reporting Utilizing the new Harvest® Reporting Server suite you can now extract a tremendous amount of rich detail about how your users are using Community Server’s social networking and collaboration functionality.