IBM has been preparing SmartCloud Docs (SCD) for quite a while now and has made no secret of it. Today’s announcement comes as part of a much bigger picture aroundIBM’s cloud computing ambitions and also sees the release of new services -- the IBM SmartCloud.

IBM’s Social Business

After the first flurry of excitement around SCD passes and users start looking at the other services available on the SmartCloud, they will find new products that focus on enabling social business across the enterprise, as well asfacilitating easier collaboration in the cloud and across a wide range of mobile devices in a secure environment.

It is in the nature of all things IBM that all of its releases are accompanied by evidence to support the reasoning behind them. In this case it cites Forrester's prediction that the cloud computing market will have grown from a US$ 41 billion business in 2010 to a US$ 241 billion business by 2020.

However,in this case it doesn't need to justify the business reasons behind this release because everyone else is doing it.

The issue here is not whether a computing giant like IBM is pursuing a cloud and social business strategy, but whether it will be robust enough to stand up in a very tight market.

IBM SmartCloud Docs

No better example of this is the competition in the productivity suite space. With SCD only having been officially released, the headlines are already shouting about challenges to Google Docs and Office 2013. The fact that it has introduced a channel partner program around it would seem to suggest that this is exactly what IBM intends. But SCD has a long way to go before it achieves the market share or functionality of either Google Docs/Drive or Office 2013.

IBM SmartCloud Docs co-editing.jpg

Co-editing in SmartCloud Docs

That said, it does come with quite a punch. According to a blog post by Ed Brill, theDirector of Product Management for IBM Social Business, some workers will find everything they need in SCD, but at a lower cost than other suites.

Learning Opportunities

More advanced users will find the social documents capabilities of IBM SmartCloud Docs to be a real value-add, including real-time co-editing, secure collaboration, and the one-click integration with the social file sharing capability,” he said.

He adds that this product will really shine when it comes to creating documents to share with others given that it has been conceived from a user point of view rather than a document point of view, which hopefully means that it is and will continue to be easy to use.

With presence awareness and instant messaging capabilities, users will also be able to see if a document co-editor is online and available to chat in real time.As a final comment Brill looks to the near future with SCD and adds:

Today's update to SmartCloud Social is the first delivery of IBM Docs. In the months ahead, we will add a private cloud model for internal organizational deployments, which already has its first European customer in production. We also plan to deliver IBM Docs mobile, with an initial focus on iPad.

IBM SmartCloud Docs presentations.jpg

IBM SmartCloud Docs presentations 

IBM SmartCloud Collaboration

Which brings us back to SmartCloud capabilities. While Docs enables users to store, co-edit and manage multiple versions from multiple authors, there is a lot more. The release also enables:

  • Sharing data: IBM Connections capabilities provide social networking between employees and partners enabling the sharing of information across the enterprise. It also comes with community based blogs, wikis and file viewers.
  • E-meeting: This is a new service that enables teams to meet on the fly usingscreen sharing and messaging chats to share information and presentations. It also comes with a new chat room to communicate with people in real time.
  • Access: Enables participation from the outside in chat and file sharing no matter what messaging platform the guest is using.
  • Outside access: It has also added new software that enables enterprises secure cloud-based IBM email on mobile devices enabling users to bring their social business on the road.

IBM SmartCloud Docs is available for no additional charge in IBM SmartCloud Engage Advanced service. IBM SmartCloud Docs is also available for purchase as a service add on for IBM Connections and IBM SmartCloud Engage Standard for US$ 3 per user, per month. If you want to know more about IBM and Social business, check out the video below.