Cloud, Hosted, or On Premises Social Collaboration Tools

By David F. Carr

The following social collaboration tools are available as traditional enterprise software that you can install on your own servers or host on dedicated equipment. Each also offers some option for a subscription-based cloud deployment option.

  • blueKiwi: blueKiwi was one of the first products to base the user experience on activity streams. In 2012, blueKiwi was acquired by Atos, Europe’s second-largest IT services provider.

    Consider this option if you want a stream-centric social platform with a reputation for being easy to implement.

  • Confluence: The Confluence wiki first gained a foothold as a platform for software documentation, dovetailing with Atlassian’s bug-tracking software for developers. Since then, Confluence has grown into a broader social software platform for many applications.

    Consider this option if wiki-style content management is an important aspect of your social software strategy. Confluence is also a relatively affordable product, accessible to small-to-midsize businesses.

  • Drupal: This free open source software has strong community backing and more than 10,000 add-on modules available. Acquia provides corporate support and commercial extensions. Social intranet is one of many possible Drupal web portal configurations.

    Drupal will suit your organization if flexibility, customization, and cost advantages outweigh the complexities of working with open source software (which can be mitigated with Acquia hosting and consulting services).

  • Liferay: Liferay is an open source, Java-based web portal platform with a Social Office module for social collaboration.

    Liferay’s social solution can fit into a broader open source strategy for your web content and applications.

  • NewsGator: A favorite social add-on to SharePoint in the years when Microsoft support for social features was clearly incomplete, NewsGator retains a loyal base of customers who trust it to continue to innovate ahead of Microsoft. NewsGator is also developing social applications such as video publishing, ideation, and talent management that go beyond the base features of a social platform.

    If you’re committed to the SharePoint platform but not satisfied with its stand-alone features and unwilling to adopt Microsoft’s cloud-only option (Yammer), consider NewsGator.

  • OpenText Social Communities: OpenText is a solid enterprise software player best known for content management, process management, and search technologies.

    Consider this option if you value integration with other OpenText products.

  • Oracle Social Network and Oracle WebCenter: Oracle aims to offer social features integrated throughout its enterprise applications suite, which can be a good long-term strategy for making social collaboration more pervasive. However, Oracle has yet to establish itself as a major social software player.

    If your organization uses multiple products from the Oracle applications suite or values Oracle’s credibility as an enterprise option, you may also consider adopting an Oracle social collaboration platform.

  • Saba PeopleCloud and Saba Social Collaboration: Saba’s interest in collaboration software grew out of its products for corporate training and talent management, including videoconferencing and discussion boards for peer-to-peer learning. Saba has progressively broadened the social collaboration features of its traditional on-premises software, while also introducing a separate cloud-based Saba PeopleCloud product aimed primarily at new customers and smaller businesses.

    This may be a good option for you if your approach to social collaboration starts with training, workforce development, and other human resources concerns, or if you already have a commitment to other elements of the Saba platform.

  • Socialcast: Socialcast is a stream-centric social collaboration platform that started in the cloud, but caught VMware’s attention partly by offering customers the option of on-premises deployment as a software appliance, hosted using virtualization technology. VMware acquired the company in 2011, making it the flagship of a social and productivity software division.

    This may be a good option for your organization if you’re seeking an enterprise solution focused on the social stream and discussion groups and don’t require wiki or content management tools in the same platform.

  • Socialtext: One of the earliest commercial social software products, Socialtext started in 2002 as an enterprise wiki and broadened to include more social software features. In 2012, it sold to Bedford, which also owns Peoplefluent, and began increasing its emphasis on HR and training scenarios for social collaboration.

    This can be a good choice if you want a relatively simple product, suitable for a small to midsize organization, or you like the focus on HR and training scenarios. Like Socialcast, Socialtext takes a virtualization technology approach to providing an on-premises option for customers who prefer that.

  • Teambox: Teambox, a social collaboration environment with a task management focus, is typically used by small firms or teams within larger ones.

    If you want a streamlined social team workspace, Teambox can be a good fit.

  • Telligent Enterprise: Along with IBM and Jive, Telligent is in the small club of social software players that offers a broad social platform that can be delivered in different configurations for either internal collaboration or public customer and partner communities.

    If you want a broad social software platform, particularly if you value using the same platform both internally and externally, consider Telligent Enterprise.

  • Tibbr: Tibco’s stream-centric social collaboration tool is used by major global enterprises like KPMG but also accessible to smaller firms through the cloud. Tibco’s heritage in integration middleware gives tibbr enterprise credibility.

    If you want collaboration in the social stream, linking to rather than duplicating other content management and collaboration tools, tibbr may be the solution for your organization.

  • WebEx Social: WebEx Social (formerly known as Cisco Quad) emphasizes integration with Cisco products for instant messaging as well as Internet voice and video, making it easy to initiate a phone or video call through the social stream or an employee profile.

    Choose this option if integration with other Cisco products is important to your organization. WebEx Social is available as a Cisco cloud service, through third-party hosting services, or as on-premises software.