SharePoint is a 'document coffin', says IBM

IBM kicks off Lotusphere 2012 with strong words against competitor, and a host of new feature announcements

IBM had nothing but strong words to say about its competitor Microsoft, at the opening session of this year's Lotusphere conference in Orlando, Florida.

Jeff Schick, vice president of social software at IBM, told the audience of over 1000 developers, clients, and media, that the enterprise content management system (ECM) was good for little beyond storing documents.

"Content at rest is expensive, content in motion is valuable," says Schick. "Unfortunately, a lot of CMS today are just expensive vaults. SharePoint is today's document coffin."

IBM has received criticism in the past from its partners and developer community for not addressing the threat of competing enterprise software such as SharePoint and Google's Apps for Businesses.

His comments came just before IBM announced several changes to its enterprise software offering, which Shick says will differentiate them from the competing products.

IBM banking on social

The theme of this year's Lotusphere is business made social, and IBM has taken the opportunity to announce several social networking orientated changes to its line of enterprise software.

IBM demoed new additions to its Connections community portal product, including the new Activity Stream feature which resembles status feeds on most popular social networks.

The Activity Stream can pull in information from multiple apps and feeds, including third party applications by using the OpenSocial framework.

Community managers can gain a better understanding of their users with built in metrics and sentiment tracking.

According to IBM, the latest version of Connections Next now allows for integration with Exchange servers, as well as Domino.

IBM Docs

Also on show was IBM's much anticipated cloud-based document collaboration and editing software called IBM Docs.

The software, formerly known as LotusLive Symphony, lets users edit and manage documents with real-time collaboration, and has much the same features found in competing products such as Google Docs and Office 365.

It can be deployed within an enterprise firewall, but IBM says the software also allows collaboration with external users such as suppliers and partners.

One of the companies currently using IBM Docs is GAD, a German IT and services provider to over 430 incorporated banks. The company is incorporating IBM Docs, among other IBM cloud services, into its retail banking software called Bank21, which connects and shares information between many of its clients.

IBM Docs is currently in closed beta, but Schick says it will be available later this year as a part of IBM's new SmartCloud for Business product.

IBM's Sametime also received new features this year. The telephony and communications software will see deeper integration in Lotus systems, including the ability to start video conferencing from within emails and instant messages - using integration with Polycom's RealPresence technology.

What's in a name?

IBM has confirmed its intention to consolidate over a dozen different cloud-based services under the IBM SmartCloud brand, including LotusLive which will be renamed to IBM SmartCloud for Business.

IBM says the changes are to bring consistency to its cloud services, but some Lotusphere attendees speculated on Twitter it may be due to a decline in the Lotus brand.

TJKEITT:

JIM LUNDY:

The annual Lotusphere conference, which is in its 19th year, showcases IBM and its partners' enterprise solutions using the Lotus suite of products. Sim Ahmed travelled to the event as a guest of IBM New Zealand.

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