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SharePoint Alternatives: Atlassian Confluence

 atlassian_logo_2010.jpgIf you don't want to go down the SharePoint route, Atlassian (newssite) could be the alternative you're looking for

The Basics

Vendor  Atlassian
Product Name
 Confluence
Product Category
Wikis, intranets and collaboration
Typical Scenario
Rapid creation of office spaces for teams to work and share information for those outside of the all-Microsoft ecosystem.
Bad Fit Scenario
Smaller companies that could do just as well with one of the many niche products.

Company and Product History

The company, Atlassian, started out in Sydney, Australia in 2002 and now has offices around the world including San Francisco. Atlassian offers its products under a "visible license" in that users can modify code  but cannot resell, so it is closer to closed source than open, but still flexible for the user.

Popular products include the JIRA issue tracker and FishEye revision control, all valuable little off-shoots that have seen the company continue to grow organically without external investment.

Confluence means "a coming together" and has been helping workers do just that since 2004. Starting out as an enterprise wiki, it has evolved through the years into an all-round collaboration tool. With constant evolution, including the recent addition of support for OpenSocial, Confluence is available as a SaaS or hosted product, powered by Java. As with all good ecosystems, it is designed to work with other Atlassian products.

Confluence is clearly a rival for SharePoint in the enterprise, but could also be considered as a step up for users of Huddle, Campfire and so on. Atlassian claims some 8,100 customers including the likes of Autodesk, Lockheed Martin and many more.

Market and Pricing

Atlassian firmly aims its products at the enterprise space. Its client list is littered with big names across the technology, banking, high technology and academia verticals. Many of those must have SharePoint too, so it would be interesting to know why the choose this as well. Certainly Confluence has a SharePoint connector, so will play nicely — we suspect it is just easier to get results with a dedicated product like Confluence.

Confluence has the widest spread application of Atlassian's products, it could be applied in almost any environment. It is free to open source institutions and non-profits. Pricing starts at just a charity donation of US$ 10 for hosted smaller installations for less than 10 users.

Price breaks go neatly up through the ranks until you are only paying US$ 1 per user, if you have 2,000 of them for the Hosted version. The initial outlay for the Server edition is bigger, but will pay for itself over time.

confluence_pricing.jpg

Key Features

Somewhere in the mists of time, the terms intranet, wiki, portal and workspace have become largely synonymous. The last three do suggest more user input, but basically anywhere workers can find and upload information is now fair game as a collaboration tool.

Confluence offers the ability to create one or many sites, for the whole company, different teams, groups or classes of worker. Managing them is done through an elegant set of administration tools and dashboards.

confluence_groups.jpg

Confluence can help create sites and groups rapidly and effectively

Setting permissions, for example, is just a matter of ticking the boxes through the various elements of each site, the work of only a few seconds. Sites can be styled and formatted as needed. If a page is designed where lots of postings are expected, then the comments section can take pride of place at the top of the page. If a community needs to refer to a blog on a regular basis, drag that to one side where it is easily accessible, but not obtrusive.

 

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