■ IBM. The recently rebranded SmartCloud for Social Business is the culmination of IBM’s efforts to facilitate seamless internal and external collaboration for enterprises. IBM has developed a flexible cloud strategy to deliver these capabilities to enterprise buyers. Clients can choose between dedicated hosting or multitenant options delivered from a globally distributed data center network. A significant portion of SmartCloud’s functionality is accessible through native mobile apps across the major mobile platforms — Android, iOS, and BlackBerry — to enable a mobile workforce. And IBM has positioned its Social Business Toolkit as a means to both customize and extend its online portfolio.
■ Microsoft. Office 365 eases enterprises into the cloud by allowing IT leaders to pick which collaboration workloads move into the cloud and which remain on-premises. To make this choice simple for prospective clients, Microsoft is investing heavily in bringing its online portfolio into parity with its legacy on-premises collaboration applications. This shows a general shift for Microsoft as it has devoted significant development resources to Office 365 and its other cloud services. Microsoft has also emphasized its dedication to meeting security and compliance standards like EU model clauses to reassure skeptical security and compliance officers that Office 365 is a trustworthy solution.
■ Salesforce.com. At Dreamforce 2011, salesforce.com positioned its social collaboration offering, Chatter, as a key component of the “social enterprise.” Salesforce.com built the tool on its legacy CRM and PaaS infrastructure, allowing Chatter to take advantage of the security, compliance, and development capabilities for which salesforce.com is renowned. This strategy also ensures that Chatter integrates with Salesforce CRM and Force.com apps, which is especially appealing to businesses leveraging these services. Salesforce.com also brings to bear an established cloud developer ecosystem and app marketplace that enterprise buyers already trust. The San Francisco-based firm is continuously looking for ways to expand Chatter’s capabilities, as it showed in acquiring and integrating real-time capabilities from audio/video/webconferencing vendor Dimdim.
■ Box. Based in Los Altos, Calif., this file sync and sharing service started life as a consumer oriented service and has quickly moved to providing technology for the enterprise. To reassure enterprise buyers, Box touts the maturity of its data center operations — which include multiple geographically diverse data centers — and the sophistication of its IT administration tools. Box is also expanding its global footprint, recently opening an office in London. The startup focuses on the mobile workforce through a series of mobile apps and a robust mobile browser experience. It’s also made investments in integrations, such as its licensed connector to onpremises enterprise content management (ECM) platforms called ECM Cloud Connect.
■ Yammer. In July 2012, Microsoft finalized a deal to acquire the San Francisco-based social collaboration technology provider for $1.2 billion. We expect this will shore up Yammer’s data center ops, global sales organization, and security and compliance capabilities. That said, Yammer has an enterprise strategy built on integrations that support business processes. In early 2012, Yammer unveiled a licensed SAP integration to go along with its established hooks into cloud enterprise resource planning and CRM providers NetSuite and salesforce.com. A central part of the value proposition for the paid version of Yammer is its fairly sophisticated IT administration capabilities, enabling abilities like multiple domain management, strong access controls, and centralized provisioning and deprovisioning of users.