a mesh of connections
Box unveiled a number of upgrades and releases, including Box Graph, at its annual user conference. Updates from Microsoft and Liferay as well PHOTO: Clint Adair

San Francisco-based Box concluded its annual conference yesterday, following three days of upgrade announcements and significant releases. One of those releases — Skills — brought artificial intelligence (AI) into the Box platform.

The other notable addition is the introduction of Box Graph. The new Graph, which will go on general release early next year, will provide Box customers a graphical display of content in the system, the relationships and actions associated with that content and the relationships between Graph users. Here’s how Jeetu Patel, Box chief product officer described it in a blog about the release:

"Box Graph understands the relationships between content and other content, content and people, and people and people. Graph continuously learns from everything you do in Box: the shared links you generate, the colleagues and customers you collaborate with and the Box Notes you create to take meeting notes. It also learns from activity on other business applications integrated with Box, like a file shared on Slack or an updated Office document.”

Graph is, in effect, an evolving model that will provide personalized and predictive experiences across the entire Box experience.

Box is starting out slowly with Graph. The first service it will offer through Graph is called Feed.

According to Patel, Feed is a personalized activity feed that surfaces the most relevant content in response to a query, or needs, of each Box user. With Feed, workers will be able to see the content that’s most important to them in a single view, depending on the permissions and security settings built into the platform.

Feed can also recommend content depending on the work a user is doing and surface the most relevant files from connections to get work done faster. Patel noted this is only the start, and other additions are on the way.

Group Manager, Product Marketing at Box, Priya Gill also pointed to the work Box had done over the past year integrating messaging apps. Among those apps is Teams, Slack and Workplace by FB, with integrations for Google Hangouts Chat, IBM Watson Workspace and Cisco Spark planned in the coming 12 months.

Microsoft Ends Support for Office 2007

In January, Microsoft warned it will end support for Office 2007, Outlook 2007 and SharePoint 2007 on Oct. 10. The date passed earlier this week, leaving enterprises still running these products without extended support.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft is urging users to upgrade as fast as they can since they no longer will receive security updates, feature updates, support or technical notes.

It is also making a strong argument for moving to its cloud-based productivity suite Office 365, which would effectively handle any end-of-life issues in the future.

The end of Office 2007 creates all kinds of problems. Customers using the Outlook 2007 email and instant messaging client will no longer be able to connect as of the end of this month. Microsoft is dropping support for the RPC over HTTP protocol, also known as Outlook Anywhere, and replacing it with MAPI/HTTP, which Outlook 2007 does not support.

The issues continue across the entire range of 2007 products, including Exchange Server, Office Suites, SharePoint Server and Office Communications Server. In the past, enterprises could buy extra support if they weren’t ready to move, but that is no longer an option. 

Symphony Looks to Replace Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams, Slack, Google G Suite, Workplace by Facebook, Cisco Spark and Jive have dominated the collaboration tool conversation over the past 12 months. But David Gurle would like to add open source Symphony to that list. Gurle, Palo Alto, Calif.-based Symphony founder and CEO, claims the company is on its way to replacing Teams and Slack in the enterprise.

It’s a pretty wild claim to make and not the first time a competitor tried to take on the bigger names. However, three-year-old Symphony is certainly looking to give the competition a run. It already claims to have 235,000 licensed users across 200 companies and is adding functionality at a breakneck pace.

Over the past week, it announced enhancements to broaden the reach and utility of its platform and enhance next-gen enterprise collaboration. The new additions include Customer Engagement Platform, Embedded Chat Module, Structured Objects, Symphony Media and its Idea Engine — all built on Symphony’s secure platform, customer-controlled encryption and regulatory compliance toolkit.

Symphony’s Customer Engagement Platform is a custom instance of Symphony that allows businesses to provide select external clients with a secure channel to internal employees. Among the other notable additions is the Symphony Idea Engine, which connects buy- and sell-side counterparts with intelligent machine-based filtering via Symphony Signals. A simple workflow lets buy-side users select topics of interest and the Symphony Idea Engine then notifies selected counterparts in real-time.

The new editions were released at the end of last week, with the promise of more releases on the way.

Liferay Releases WeDeploy

Finally, this week Diamond Bar, Calif.-based Liferay announced the immediate availability of WeDeploy, a new cloud platform which it says gives developers the infrastructure, services and hosting capabilities needed to build, launch and scale their applications.

WeDeploy offers developers tools and application hosting in the cloud with just a few lines of code. Using Docker, developers’ can also use WeDeploy’s hosting capabilities to deploy a fully customizable stack.

In fact, WeDeploy acts as an all-in-one platform for prepackaged microservices including user authentication, real-time data and email.

“With WeDeploy, we’re releasing a platform designed from the ground up to meet developers’ needs for a powerful, intuitive application deployment solution — and one which we believe also empowers any business to get on the fast track toward meeting their digital transformation and customer engagement goals,” said Brian Chan, chief software architect, Liferay.