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Open Atrium, a Drupal-based open source collaboration tool, just released an update. Version 2, which integrates with many commercial software options, is designed for companies that want to combine their social network, document collaboration and project management systems.

Connect Multiple Systems in One Place

The challenge with social business tools is that every company is different — and the number of tools available to help them seems to be multiplying. For companies with several tools in use, Open Atrium is an option for combining them, said Karen Borchert, vice president of strategic initiatives at Phase2, the company that built and maintains Open Atrium.

"There's lots of confusion around what an intranet is today, so Open Atrium 2 was built with flexibility in mind," she told

With so many disparate systems out there — from portals, microblogs and wikis to team and document management tools and intranets — businesses may welcome a tool that integrates several of these options.

That's exactly what Open Atrium 2 was built for, Borchert said, and the flexibility it offers could take it any number of directions in the next couple of years. "So far, the implementations we see are less social oriented and more asset focused," she said.

Since Open Atrium 2 launched late last month, there have been around 3,800 downloads, with much of the interest coming from Drupal developers. Those developers often use Open Atrium to build intranets for their clients. The fact that the new version integrates with so many other systems is one of its strong points.


Open Atrium 2 extends to products like Alfresco and SharePoint

All of the Intranets

As a Drupal 7 based project, Open Atrium has a built-in pluggable framework. That means modules can be built for many existing tools like Confluence and Yammer, Borchert said.

"Companies often come to us with existing SharePoint installations and say they are considering an open source tool to help them scale," she said.

This question of scale is a major concern in large companies,  and likely one of the reasons so many of them have multiple systems in place. Some large organizations still use websites with hundreds of links as corporate intranets, Borchert said. Enterprises are also concerned about security, another issue Open Atrium 2 addresses, Borchert said.

Open Atrium 1 could either be all public or all private, but the updated version has more granular privacy and security controls, she explained. More flexibility should mean a more interest from a wider variety of companies, Borchert said. The first version was very popular with non profits, for example.

Open Atrium 2 uses a Bootstrap based, responsive theme while version 1 was more locked down. It also employs the Panopoly Drupal distribution for its WYSIWYG (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get) program and panels editor,  as shown in the image above. 

Other features include document creation and storage, mobile optimization, notifications, micro sites and of course the ubiquitous activity stream. Open Atrium is a free download for those who know how to install it. There are also hosted demos that can be viewed through companies like Phase2. Those who decide to use it after the demo can download it or continue hosting it through companies like Pantheon, Borchert said.

Open Atrium has a unique position in the market. If and when companies begin to fall out of love with their Yammer, Dropbox or Office 365 implementations, perhaps the tool will be there to catch them.