IBM Will Support All Major Files to Run On Lotus Social Software Suite

IBM hopes the move will make its Lotus Quickr, a document sharing and set of Web 2.0 tools such as wikis and blogs, a more compelling option for enterprise collaboration in response to the rise SharePoint.

IBM added to its Lotus suite of social software today by creating new connectors for Quickr, Big Blue's Web 2.0 offering that includes corporate blogs, wikis, and file sharing.

The update will make it possible for all major productivity software — including Microsoft Office, Lotus Symphony and OpenOffice — to run over Lotus Quickr.

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IBM executives say Quickr now offers customers an alternative to SharePoint , Microsoft's primary social software suite, which is primarily built for Microsoft Office users.

"This is easier collaboration without barriers," says Jeff Schick, vice president of social networking at IBM Lotus Software. "We absolutely see this as a competitor to SharePoint."

Understanding how Quickr fits into IBM's overall Web 2.0 and social software strategy can be confusing, however. IBM also offers Lotus Connections, which has tools such as social networking and bookmarking. Some IBM customers have both suites, while others just have one. Microsoft offers most of the same Web 2.0 capabilities all under the SharePoint banner.

"They [Quickr and Connections] are both an integrated social software platform for business," Schick says. "You can argue that calling it one thing is good or bad, but nevertheless we see our portfolio as integrated."

According to recent research by Forrester, IBM and Microsoft will likely grab the largest market share of the Web 2.0 and social software market . Oliver Young, a Forrester analyst, says the confusion created by two similar software products, Quickr and Connections, could become a problem for IBM.

"As for the spread of Web 2.0 functionality across Connections and Quickr, I do believe it is a major weakness of the offering but I would be very surprised if IBM didn't remedy the problem in short order," Young told CIO in an e-mail.

Aside from the productivity software, Quickr will also integrate with Microsoft Outlook and include a dashboard for managers to have an overview of how files are being shared and what types of workspaces around those files are emerging.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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