HCL Connections Review

It provides context to information, either by organizing related information, data and files in communities, or by simply adding tags to persons and all kinds of data.

What is most valuable?

The most important feature of IBM Connections is that it is a Social Collaboration suite covering nearly all aspects of modern enterprise communication and collaboration. As a comprehensive set of Enterprise 2.0 tools, Connections can serve many purposes in an enterprise and so be useful for many people inside. It is therefore superior to any single-purpose tools that sometimes might be better in specific functions, but are only useful for a small group. The reduction of information silos is one of the most important challenges enterprises are facing today and it can only succeed if everybody in the enterprise is using the same platform for open communication and collaboration.

How has it helped my organization?

The whole organization benefits from one of the most important key features of Connections: It provides context to everything either by organizing related information, data and files in communities or by simply adding tags to persons and all kinds of data. Context also means that conversations and discussions happen exactly where they belong and not somewhere else (e-mail, phone, ...).

What needs improvement?

The wiki is the weakest part of Connections, compared to standalone wiki solutions. It does not offer customizable templates for pages, a feature users often ask for. I would love to see improvements in this area.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it since 2007.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

I have not really encountered any deployment, stability or scalability issues. Stability and scalability are excellent due to the underlying platform, IBM WebSphere. Deployment on premises takes between 3-5 days and requires good, skilled and experienced technicians. Deployment in the IBM cloud is easy. Major upgrades on premises are sometimes challenging and should only be done by experienced technicians.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is good, but could be better, as always.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Previously, we mainly used email, which for collaboration purposes has a lot of disadvantages: It has no structure (personal email folders are not a collaboration tool), it is highly redundant, you neither know the status or the context of a message and finally, it is another silo. Sharing is way more efficient than distributing.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup is complex because you have to deal with installation and integration of several systems: WebSphere Application Server, HTTP server, relational database, LDAP, Tivoli Directory Integrator for syncing user data between LDAP and Connections, IBM Cognos for BI, e-mail integration.

What about the implementation team?

We provide implementation of Connections as a service and did it ourselves.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Some IBM business partners offer very attractive prices if you combine Connections licenses with one of their add-on solutions.

What other advice do I have?

IBM Connections is a software product but deploying Connections is not mainly an IT project. You should know WHY you are deploying it and which GOALS you want to achieve with it. Otherwise, it will fail even if the infrastructure is running perfectly.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: My company is an IBM Business Partner.
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