It seems like just about everyone offers some type of solution that integrates with SharePoint (news, site). But for every potential integration, it seems like there's another vendor out there that offers a solution designed to replace SharePoint.
And there are a number of alternative solutions to SharePoint on the market today. Not all are identical in capabilities, not all claim to be SharePoint alternatives -- even though they are.
We took a look at some of these "SharePoint Alternatives" and let you know what SharePoint functionality they replace. Here's what we found.
When most people think about how SharePoint is used they think Document Collaboration. SharePoint is a place that you can store, manage and collaborate on your your documents and other information. As a result, most of the SharePoint "alternatives" have focused on supplying this type of capability.
Box.Net (news, site) is a good alternative for document collaboration and these guys go hard after the SharePoint market.This is an online service that provides the ability to store documents, share them with others and collaborate using discussions, comments and other features.
Box has a number of other features that make it comparable to SharePoint, including:
- Mobile access using a Blackberry, iPhone or other smart device
- Share Folders to create online workspaces which are great for project collaboration. Workflow is enabled by assigning basic review and approval tasks to documents.
- View documents directly in your browser without leaving Box.
- Create wiki-style web documents for things like meeting minutes.
- There's a real time activity feed to let you know what has been recently worked on, uploaded, commented, etc.. This is functionality that SharePoint does not currently have.
There are Business and Enterprise Editions of Box that add even more functionality like full text search on documents, versioning and additional security including 256-bit SSL encryption and passwords on files and folders.
Box does provide the ability to integrate with third party applications such as Zoho, Gmail, Saleforce.com, LinkedIn and more. And it's extensible via its own set of APIs which includes one for mobile development.
Other Document Collaboration Alternatives
Box is not the only alternative to SharePoint when it comes to document collaboration. Here are a few more you might want to consider:
- Glasscubes.com: Built for the SMB market, it provides document and contact management, along with an intranet. Also an online solution, Glasscubes may come a bit closer to offering more SharePoint capabilities than Box.net, but for a smaller business. The ability to do contact management does make it stand out. Here's our take on the service.
- Xythos: Xythos is probably more of a full fledged document management system than SharePoint, but it is a SaaS based alternative that offers a number of document collaboration capabilities (there's also an on premise version).
- SharePoint Online: A Microsoft hosted version of SharePoint, SharePoint Online offers all the same document collaboration features as the online version without the customization capabilities (although that is changing when it moves to SharePoint 2010). Here's our overview of the hosted service.
- HyperOffice: We haven't covered this solution, but it has the makings of a SharePoint alternative and the company sells it that way. HyperOffice is a hosted solution that offers an intranet, document management, team and project collaboration and more.
- Alfresco Share: This is Alfresco's, an open source enterprise content management provider, alternative to SharePoint (or WSS). It is focused on collaboration and mirrors the functionality so closely that you may need to look twice. Share is not a standalone solution however. It is part of the greater Alfresco ECM platform, so if you don't want ECM, you may not want Share. Keep in mind there is a community version and an enterprise version of Alfresco, so if you like free, it may not matter if it has more functionality than you need. Here's our take on Alfresco's "SharePoint killer".
- Lotus Quickr: Quickr is IBM's document collaboration solution. It's a place to organize and share content, and collaboration on projects.
- EMC CenterStage: For record, EMC does not claim that CenterStage is a SharePoint alternative. Built as a collaboration interface to Documentum, it is meant to be an easier way to access and share content in the Documentum repository. Here's our look at the solution.
- Zoho Office: Zoho has mentioned SharePoint like features in some of their releases and there are a number of similar features (Zoho Share is a good one). Another cloud-based service, Zoho offers a number of office productivity and team collaboration services.
- Google Sites/Docs: Google is another obvious alternative to SharePoint. Google Sites, in combination with Google Docs provides a lot of capabilities for collaborating on documents, including building team sites/intranets. We spent a bit of time lately covering all the enhancements on Sites and Docs coming out, follow them here.
SharePoint 2007 would not be considered a leading platform for social computing. But it does offer some of these capabilities including wikis, blogs and discussions. Where it lacks, Microsoft looks to its partner base for integrated solutions. And these come from the likes of NewsGator, Telligent, Jive Software and many others.
But many of these social computing vendors can also be considered alternatives to SharePoint, especially if it's the social capabilities that you want the most.
IBM (news, site) is making a major play for the social business software market and in turn touting its superiority over SharePoint. The solution is called Lotus Connections and all the major features are here: blogs, wikis, communities, profiles, social networking, document sharing and more.
Lotus Connections Home Page
At Lotusphere this month, IBM announced new capabilities for Connections including:
- Support for user generated content
- Compliance and auditing capabilities
- Deeper integration with WebSphere Portal and SharePoint
- Expanded mobile support
And there's a hosted version of Connections available called LotusLive Connections, if the cloud is your preferred home.
Lotus Connections, in combination with Lotus Quickr makes for an interesting SharePoint alternative.
Other Social Computing Alternatives
- Telligent: Recently rebranded, Telligent offers both an internal and external community solution that includes blogs, wikis, activity feeds, microblogging and much more. The internal edition, Telligent Enterprise 2.0 would be considered the alternative to SharePoint in the enterprise. In addition to all the basics, it offers integration with business applications, a historical knowledge base and business and social groups.
- Jive Software: Jive's Social Business Software is community software with a business focus. The platform offers all the basic plus extras like analytics, business intelligence, social bookmarking and video. It also offers integration with business systems, including content management systems.
The Platform Alternative
SharePoint is a collaboration platform. What does that mean? It means you can build upon or extend its capabilities to give you the functionality you need for your business. And while there are many potential alternatives to SharePoint -- as shown above -- not all are platforms.
Some do provide APIs for extending their services. Box.net, Google Sites and Telligent all do at some level. But probably the best alternative from a platform perspective is MindTouch.
MindTouch 2009 is a developer platform for social collaboration and communities that provide the ability to create collaborative solutions that involve any number of enterprise applications or web services. The key here being the enterprise application integration capabilities, something SharePoint provides in 2007 and does even better in SharePoint 2010.
MindTouch Collaborative Intranet
In addition to the core platform, MindTouch has also been coming out with a number of out-of-the-box applications for that platform, including a knowledge base and an intranet application, offering similar functionality to SharePoint.
Where SharePoint may be the better alternative, is where non-technical users want to be able to create sites quickly and get collaboration up and running without IT or developer support.
A List of SharePoint Alternatives is Never Complete
Truth is, there aren't many competitors out there who can claim to have all the functionality that SharePoint does. Many have chosen to focus on features they believe are the most demanded by the market. We've mentioned some of these above. But we haven't named them all.
If you think there's another SharePoint alternative who should be in this list, we welcome you to name them via the comments below. Also let us know if your company has selected one of these alternatives over SharePoint and why.