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A Cloud Based Intranet, Courtesy of eXo

In the four years since I last took a good look at the eXo platform, quite a bit has changed. Back in the day when I was a web and intranet consultant, eXo positioned itself as the premier open source web content management (WCM) platform — a more extensible platform than out of the box applications like Drupal. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Patrice Lamarque, vice president of products for eXo and we discussed eXo's new premium cloud offering, its new marketing focus and the changing enterprise software market.

 

Evolution from Web Platform to Enterprise Social Platform

EXo have changed their tag line and their marking focus, now labeling themselves as an enterprise social platform

The eXo mission statement now reads, “Harness the power of social to build the connected, collaborative and secure workplace for employees, customers and partners.”

I asked Patrice what prompted the change in direction. Patrice explained that since eXo's founding in 2003, the enterprise software market has changed; the enterprise portal and WCM segment is now a highly mature market heading toward saturation. The enterprise social platform market is a more recent phenomena, with considerable potential for growth and even more importantly, it is capturing the imaginations of customers in a much bigger way. T

People shouldn't consider the social functionality added to eXo as “add ons” though: elements such as user profiles, activity streams and enterprise social networking are fully integrated elements of the core product. The screen shot below shows a quick poll embedded into the activity stream:

Jed_exo1.jpg
Poll embedded in the eXo activity stream.

EXo retains a full portal framework, so it’s not a case of abandoning one market to chase another — I see it as more of an integration play. You could think of eXo as the true open source alternative to Microsoft’s SharePoint 2013 — a platform that delivers easy to use of out of the box functionality, but also provides a portal framework, APIs and tools to extend it through development of custom “apps.”

This slide from eXo conveys the thinking behind this change:

Jed_exo2.jpg

Using eXo to Put Your Company Intranet in the Cloud

If you have read my articles before you may remember previous investigations into platforms that would allow me to move a large corporate intranet to the cloud. I wanted to discuss this area with Patrice, and it lead us toward discussing eXo’s announcement of a new cloud offering.

The eXo platform is available as an on premises install, and being open source, there is a Community edition which you can download for free to play with and get to learn the platform. The Express edition brings support, updates and directory services integration for a low starting price and the Enterprise edition adds further features.

EXo’s first foray into the cloud — released earlier this year — puts the Express version onto Amazon’s cloud infrastructure, delivering a social intranet experience in a Software as a Service (SaaS) mode. This is a freemium offering aimed at the SMB sector and at business units within bigger enterprises, but without WCM for building sites it focused on the social collaboration scenario. More details are available here.

Today eXo launches its Cloud Premium edition. For $36 per user / per year, a customer now receives all the features and functionality of the Enterprise edition in a scalable hosted SaaS offering, with a starting point of 1GB per user and the following features:

  • Activity Streams
  • People Directory
  • Spaces (work spaces)
  • Documents (document management)
  • Google Drive Integration
  • Wiki, Forum and Q & A modules
  • Calendars and Dashboards
  • Polls
  • WCM — for building out intranet “sites”
  • Mobile Apps

EXo will now concentrate on this new Premium cloud offering, working on further integrations (e.g. Box, SalesForce) and on features such as full sync with an on premises Lightweight Directory Access Protocol / Single Sign On solution.

I work in the financial services industry, so I had to ask Patrice the “awkward” questions that arise when it comes to cloud based solutions: issues around regulatory compliance, e-disovery, etc.

As the eXo platform is based on the Java technology stack, these underlying technologies can provide the solutions required to meet many of these complex requirements. Content storage is via the Java Content Repository (JCR) standard — JSR170 or the later JSR283.

 

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