The quiet arrival of the SharePoint killer

It was with some interest that I read The Forrester Wave™: Collaboration Platforms, Q3 2009 after a link was Tweeted out yesterday. I was reading in reverse order from Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, see my Gartner Magic Quadrant; a dark horse closing up the outside fence… My main interest in Forrester’s was to see where Jive were placed. Of late I’ve been doing a lot of hands-on work with Jive and getting to know the platform in a great amount of detail.


On reading the wave report, I was struck by one small arrival – a horse of even darker hue,  that of Cisco WebEx Connect as a collaboration platform. Most people are aware of WebEx as a webinar tool and have not used Connect.  I was at Cisco when WebEx was acquired and in San Jose too and remember all the WebEx signs in the carpark. It all looked a bit puzzling, for me at least, until I found out about Connect. Connect is a superb tool and worth acquiring for that alone. It’s a SharePoint killer.

Here’s why. Connect is 2.0 in a way that SharePoint never will be. It’s modular, making it infinitely extendable and uses accessible open APIs:

  • URL commands
  • XML Request / Response interfaces with well-defined schemas
  • Web Services interfaces that support Web Services Definition Language (WSDL) with access through Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP).
  • Representational State Transfer (REST).

What this means is a rapidly deployable, file-store and  silo-busting collaboration app with the ability to slot in any number of friendly mash-ups. Twitter for Connect/ no problemo, just load it up and slot it in. Facebook, ditto, iPhone easy. What’s more it’s robustly secure, no worries about the firewall with this baby. And of course it’s backed up by a tech behemoth. This is no start-up.

Potentially, this is the Enterprise 2.0 application.

I say potentially as to be frank I was surprised to see it in the Forrester Wave (and it’s not present in Gartner’s). The product is superb but I’ve never seen it pushed out and really marketed for what it is. Go to the WebEx site (and it’s still on the WebEx domain) and Connect is listed but not featured much. It doesn’t scream out what it does. What’s more, I couldn’t find the link where I might connect up with Connect. Puzzling.

Now if you go onto the Jive site you’ll see a lot of publicity about SharePoint connectivity. All good stuff as SharePoint is almost a defacto standard in many corporations. This could change almost overnight. Here’s how and why.

Cisco, Miscrosoft and Google are in a cage fight. That fight I dubbed The Battle of the Cloud a while back. Cisco own the Network, Miscrosoft the Software and Google own the Experience. All of these 3 areas get completely mashed up in the metaphor we currently know as the cloud. And I believe, the stakes are high enough to see severe casualties amongst the 3 big players. (See also Dion Hinchcliffe’s Cloud computing and the return of the platform wars…estimate is for $42 Billion by 2012, I’m taking the argument even further).

Against this backdrop, singular products like Connect, that many don’t even realise exists, provides some wonderfully disruptive possibilities as a disruptive Enterprise 2.0 collaboration tool. Given this, what I’d do if I was sitting in the board at San Jose would be to ramp up the marketing for Connect. And if I really wanted to shake up the whole apple cart, I’d also make it free.

16 thoughts on “The quiet arrival of the SharePoint killer”

  1. beware of the platform that will consume all three in an open
    standard mashup complete with federated provisioning, federated
    search and ten yezars of hardend security. coming soon.

  2. I can’t say that I agree the heavy web-services interfaces is a
    desirable approach. The end goal of enabling machine to machine
    collaboration, extensibility, scalability and programmability is
    best achieved with RESTful design (this is distinct from REST
    interfaces). Take a look at MindTouch, if you haven’t already, for
    a good example of this.

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  6. Hello, I work for Mark Miller at I read this
    article and really enjoyed it. We would like to cross-post your
    article. As with other authors, we would publish your entire
    article on giving you full attribution with
    links. Please let me know if this is something you would be
    interested in. Best Regards, Natasha Natasha Felshman

  7. Thanks for all the comments and happy for a cross-post. I should
    point out I’m not against SharePoint and currently working out how
    to connect Jive to it: I use it too and think it has many fine

  8. Hey, Russell, you say you are “currently working out how to connect
    Jive to [SharePoint]”. Did you know that about the current Jive
    integration to SharePoint? A few of its features: * Bi-directional
    search integration * Bi-directional content flow * Mapping of
    SharePoint silos to socialization containers in Jive, fully
    configurable at three levels * Full user awareness about SharePoint
    activities inside Jive and SharePoint * WebParts to bring social
    information from Jive into the silos * Streamlined access to Jive
    social features from Jive * Single Sign On via Kerberos/NTLM *
    Beautiful user and container avatar roll-overs in SharePoint, just
    as if it was as useable as Jive Let me know if you need more
    details, will be happy toi provide them to you 🙂 Cheers!

  9. This was an interesting article, but what it doesn’t take into
    account is the influx of Windows 7/Office 2010. All of the benefits
    of of the platform; could mostly handled “Out-Of-The-Box” from a
    business stand point by purchasing Windows 7 Ultimate and Office
    07/2010. From Blog Posting, Web Site Content Generation, Video
    Editing, Image Resources, File Management, Desktop Colaboration,
    Video Conferencing, etc. Keep in mind these are tools that can work
    independently outside of Share Point. Once these tools are used in
    tandem with Share Point the Business ramifications are
    exponentially vertical. This is part of the Puzzle that Open Source
    Advocates seem to miss out on. While Microsoft seems to be lagging
    in the industry, all they need to do is push out Updates and they
    are head of the pack again because of the foot print they already
    have. DUDE you can publish Blog Posts from MS Word now-a-days right
    into WordPress… So I guess this boils down to Flashy statements
    like “iPhone Killer” It is possible to kill the iPhone itself, but
    not possible to kill the 90,000 apps and strong App Store. Just as
    you may find a CMS that has better User Interface than Share Point
    but it not possible to kill the Complete Microsoft Advantage.

  10. On Jive, I need an internal sharepoint site to test, going through
    the rituals to get one. Will see how it progresses! And yes,
    SharePoint is a powerful beast with a lot of extensibility and this
    blog talks up the social side of 2010 But no product or company
    is immortal and one only has to looks at Microsoft’s many victories
    over once market leaders to realise that…

  11. Thanks again, Russell, you point to “the social side of SharePoint
    2010”, and somehow it would seem that we are talking apples and
    apples when we compare it with, say, Jive. Nothing could be further
    from the truth: the social functionality of Jive has been available
    for years, it is proven, you can install it and run it today, and
    love it immediately. Not so with SharePoint 2010: despite all the
    smoke and mirrors about SharePoint 2010, let’s review some facts:
    it’s NOT AVAILABLE, and IT WILL NOT BE for almost a year. It’s
    going on Beta in November, but as far as it can be seen from the
    (very buggy) previews shown during the SharePoint Conference, it
    has a LOOONG WAY TO GO. Balmer says it will be July 2010 for
    release, and the image of the Apple commercial PC saying “Trust me”
    comes to mind 🙂 So, let’s be more precise: SharePoint 2010 will
    PROBABLY have more social FEATURES by the time it gets released
    many months from now. From those, customers will need to assemble
    social solutions that can be really used, and some will succeed,
    after spending a lot of money in licenses, development resources,
    and schedule time. Say, 18 months or so, a handful of customers
    will probably be getting value from their SP-based solutions. As
    for comparisons, the result os obvious: during those 18 months or
    so, companies like Jive will continue innovating, bringing tons of
    working, proven social functionality to market; so, it’s certain
    they will remain ahead, and even possible that they will INCREASE
    their advantage, free as they are from legacy issues that try to
    take in an almost infinite number of markets with a common, huge,
    monolithic solution… 🙂 Disclaimer: of course, I am partial to
    Jive SBS, and involved on-and-off with the company. But I am not
    asking you to take my comments as an statement of faith or
    “trust-me”, do I? :p

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