Earlier this year I wrote a story for which I interviewed several companies using Google Apps, grilling them about their likes and dislikes.The ease of collaborating with coworkers and with others was a feature I heard lauded again and again. Judging from comments by Rishi Chandra, a product manager for Google Apps, the company recognizes collaboration as its ace in the hole. He said:
We are building the next generation of collaborative applications, and the cloud offers the best way to deliver them. Ten years ago, it was all about really intensive individual collaborative applications. But now it's about working with others.
Chandra is looking pretty prescient these days, with just about every major software player rolling out cloud-based solutions that make it simple to collaborate with colleagues both near and far and, increasingly, with folks outside the company such as suppliers and partners. While CRM has long been <strong>hailed as the cloud's</strong> <strong>killer app</strong>, collaboration looks to give it some strong competition. Among the most significant product announcements:
- Microsoft is launching the cloud-based version of Sharepoint it first announced last year. This CMS Wire review runs down the details. There's a standard, multi-tenant version, or companies (presumably) can pay more for a dedicated version that offers features more akin to the on-premise version of Sharepoint. As with most other cloud-based software, the review notes it probably isn't for you if you want to do a lot of customization.
- Jive is taking a similar approach as Microsoft by offering a cloud-based version of its collaboration software that offers customers a dedicated virtual database and application server. The company also makes it easy for customers to move the software to their internal servers or to Jive's hosting facility, which InformationWeek's Andrew Conry writes is its ultimate objective. He also points out some potential pitfalls of the software, namely that Jive's professional services will be required for companies wanting a database other than Postgres or if they want to combine multiple instances of the cloud software.
- IBM's LotusLive Engage offers online profile and contact management, meetings, file sharing, instant messaging and lightweight project management capabilities and something called "Click to Cloud," which promises to ease integration of the LotusLive online services with existing on-premise Lotus software.
- Oracle will begin selling a cloud-based version of its Beehive collaboration software, priced at just $15 a month per user. It offers Web-based team workspaces with tools such as wikis and team calendaring, and compatability with non-Oracle desktop tools such as Microsoft's Outlook e-mail client. In a bid to win companies with big investments in Microsoft, it also allows IT admins to continue to use Microsoft Exchange in conjunction with Beehive.