This is the first of a three part series on IBM Connections, their collaboration platform for social business. I recently had an extended conversation with Suzanne Livingston, Senior Product Manager for Connections. I have covered Connections before (see for example, Looking Closely at Lotus Connections) but it had been a while since I took another detailed look. We began by discussing Connections 3.0, released in 2011, that has expanded features to support communities.
This community support includes video and photo sharing and support for idea generation, including Ideation Blogs. It also provides the means to better manage a document library for communities through integration with IBM Enterprise Content Manager and IBM FileNet. Community moderation is offered and communities can manage their documents within Community Pages. The document library services are provided through Quickr for Websphere Portal. This allows security setting, users, and groups to be synchronized between Quickr and Connections.
Expanded mobile capabilities are provided through IBM’s Social Everywhere mission, which has been a major part of each release since Connections 1. You can upload photos and videos from your phone. Now you can get native apps as well as hybrid ones through a mobile browser. You can access all of your Connections data from mobile browsers or through free native apps. You can download native apps from the major app stores such as iTunes, Andriod Market, and Blackberry App Worlds.
IBM created a version of Connections specifically for the iPad that takes advantage of the new capabilities that a tablet offers over a smartphone. This includes editing while maintaining the gestural navigation found in both devices.
On the Web facing side, Connections 3.0 continues to support Websphere Portal 7 and 8 beta with better integration with the portal. This enables more robust use of Connections for external communities. With this release you can have community page portlets with blogs and profiles. This gives you the option of using Websphere Portal as your website UI but with Connections capabilities built in. You can also simply use Connections as your Web interface. The Spanish Red Cross is one example of this move. Connections 3.0 is offered through the cloud and on premise.
Connections 3.0.1 can also be used for compliance purposes. All Connections posts, comments, blogs, etc. are logged instantly and available for eDiscovery. IBM works with their partner Actiance to provide this capability. There is real-time content monitoring, a keyword blacklist, and granular policies to map compliance requirements by user type. Alerts can be sent when posts contain blacklisted words. Mail security can be invoked before posting to avoid such things as SEC violations.
This collection represents a solid foundation for the evolution of Connections through the next major release of Connections that I will begin to discuss in the second post in this series which will appear tomorrow.