IBM's latest version of its social enterprise collaboration software suite IBM Connections is now available on the IBM cloud marketplace, a move IBM officials say makes the platform faster and easier to deploy.

The announcement today of IBM Connections 5 comes roughly 18 months after IBM's last update to the Connections platform. IBM officials boasted about the new offering's capability to bring secure file sync to on premises.

Deployment Choices

IBM released IBM Connections 4.5 in January 2013. It featured embedded document management capabilities and social profiles, communities and files that became available in the Communities' Microsoft Outlook client for tighter Facebook and Twitter integration. 

social business, IBM Moves Into Social Enterprise Cloud with Connections 5

This January IBM released the Domino environment as a cloud service. It allowed customers to port Domino applications to a cloud environment specifically tailored for those applications.

Today, the IBM Connections 5 release includes new cloud and on premises social software. It also includes, IBM officials said, an open and fully integrated all-device suite of social and real-time collaboration, analytics and content management tools. IBM has more than 100 Software-as-Service (SaaS) solutions available. 

IBM Connections 5 includes:

  • Deployment on premises, through the cloud or in a hybrid environment
  • Enterprise file sync and document sharing features
  • Embedded collaboration, analytics and content capabilities within existing business processes accessible on almost any device or business application

Wow Factor?

Luis Benitez, senior social software product manager for IBM, told CMSWire this platform is distinguished from competitors because it brings file sync to on premises, based on demand by C-Level executives that "no longer trust consumer file sync and share services and need the security, scalability and capabilities that only IBM can provide." 

IBM's desktop plug-ins bring collaboration features directly to the native desktop experience. 

"While other vendors force you to open a browser and log on and find a file before you can collaborate," Benitez said, "we bring social features such as sharing, liking, tagging, commenting, etc. directly to the native desktop experience."

IBM does not charge extra for file encryption and remote wipe/device management capabilities. IBM's new mobile app that comes with IBM Connections contains a personalization feature that lets users customize the experience to meet their needs. It also added a new "History" view to give end users one-tap access to the content that matters most to them.

"This is a unique capability that is not found in competitors’ solutions," Benitez said, "and we built it in response to mobile user needs of getting to and interacting with content immediately." 

And deployment, Benitez added, is not forced in the cloud.

"IBM Connections 5.0 external collaboration capabilities meet the needs of enterprises wanting to collaborate with customers/partners/suppliers in a single, secure, controlled space," he said.

Connections Branding

IBM officials in January announced its intent to bring together its cloud and on premises mail, social collaboration, chat, meetings, office productivity and content capabilities, including new high-definition video streaming planned for the latter part of 2014, under the single IBM Connections brand.

One of IBM's big gets into its social software was its integration with HootSuite, a social media dashboard.

IBM Connections was already ranked highly by Gartner in its Magic Quadrant for Workplace Social Software along with Jive, Microsoft (SharePoint and Yammer) and Salesforce Chatter before that December get.

Last month, Forrester deemed IBM Connections a leader in its first Wave for Enterprise Social Platforms in three years. In its second quarter 2014 report, it named IBM, Zimbra and Jive as leaders for the second time, and tossed Salesforce, Microsoft and Tibco in the top for the first time. Zimbra was formerly known as Telligent.

IBM Connections, Salesforce Chatter and Communities, Microsoft Office 365, Zimbra Communities and Tibco tibbr were cited as leaders in the space.