A decent story on IBM Connections, worth reading but some points bear closer examination:
1. The article states that SharePoint started off as a document management system.
That's really not accurate in my view. SharePoint started off as two distinct pieces: SharePoint Team Services (at best, targeting document/file sharing and ad-hoc collaboration) and SharePoint Portal. Capabilities expected in what the industry would call a "document management system" were seriously lacking in the early versions of SharePoint. Only with the latest release (MOSS 2007) can you actually position the platform as part of an enterprise content management solution.
SharePoint is clearly challenged in its implementation of blogs and wikis (you either run out to Codeplex or use a partner). It also appears that enabling social networks within SharePoint can take a fair amount of customization. Still, I still find many organizations placing bets on Microsoft. This indicates that the decision criteria is much broader than a comparison to Connections itself. I still maintain that IBM has a chance to "head Microsoft off at the pass" by delivering first-class integration between Connections and SharePoint and relegate SharePoint to a workspace/document management system. I still find pricing concerns over Connections cited by organizations that end up going with Microsoft. Also, those organizations that do not have "burning requirements" for blogs, wikis, etc seem more willing to sit back and wait for Microsoft to fix it in the next release. (Note: Overall, I'm not sure IT organizations have the framework needed to discover and asses the type of soft requirements associated with community-building, social networks and emergent collaboration - perhaps a reason for a natural inclination to go with establisher players).
2. The article represents a view that I also often find when talking to clients about Connections. People wonder if it would be better for IBM to converge QuickR and Connection into a single platform to compete better with Microsoft. IBM seems to dismiss that view as simply a naming and branding challenge and that integration does provide a seamless user experience.
Both views are pretty accurate. In some situations - Quickr solves different problems than Connections (and visa-versa). On the other hand, people are confused when IBM has to run through a large number of product SKU's to solve a problem when Microsoft answers simply with "SharePoint". So there is a valid argument that IBM needs to accept and not treat it as a packaging issue. The argument also rightly points out that Connections does indeed have significant functional gaps - there is no wiki component - there is no feed management component (ala NewsGator or Attensa) - the blogging component is not the same (Roller) as what is used by Domino and Quickr. Yes, IBM has partners to fill those gaps for Connections (e.g., Socialtext for the wiki). But it's unclear then how Socialtext works within a Domino or Quickr environment. If you look at the integration between SharePoint and Confluence - it seems more bi-directional than what IBM has achieved so far. There seem to be "Connections partners" that are not encouraged to integrate with the traditional Notes/Domino and Quickr platforms.
So overall, I still do not see the rapid build-out of a robust partner ecosystem around Connections that I would have expected by a company whose collaboration business is so threatened by SharePoint over the next couple of years. Perhaps at Lotusphere 2009 well see more. The RIM integration is great - but there needs to be a greater sense of urgency by IBM to keep up with Microsoft's traction in the market. For me, the Connections/Quickr synergies are key, along with an open framework for partners to "plug in" best-of-breed vendors (but to do so, the business models for those vendors have to span beyond Connections - Socialtext integration with Quickr and Domino for instance).
I was also surprised that the article did not mention Jive - perhaps the only "mini stack" on-premises alternative to IBM and Microsoft.
Understanding Lotus Connections, IBM's Version of Web 2.0 For The Enterprise - CIO.com - Business Technology Leadership
Since launching last year, Lotus Connections entered a crowded market of enterprise 2.0 vendors, companies that had taken popular Web 2.0 technologies in the consumer space like blogs, wikis and social networks and repurposed them for businesses. IBM found familiar foes as well, including Microsoft, who added social software features to its SharePoint platform.