HCL Connections Review

All technical documentation is written in the wiki. It is now the central point of reference.

What is most valuable?

I think that the main tools, after file management, are Activities, Community and online documentation management with IBM DOC (embedded in the system). There are many other services such as Blog, Wiki, Forum, Survey, Chat and Conference, Audio/Video, Profiles. Those services are also important, but they are not immediately implemented because other applications or services provide that functionality.

Our customers believe that Activities, Community and IBM DOC are the features that provide particular value.

How has it helped my organization?

All files managed by my team are generated directly in Connections, initially as personal files but shared with each other. Ultimately, files are moved into the community for reference and so shared with all members of the team.

All technical documentation is written in the wiki, which is now the central point of reference about everything necessary to work, both on the project and knowledge sharing.

What needs improvement?

The improvement's are could be more flexibility to manage files and to have a sync file area more intuitive and which respects the characteristics of other similar solutions. That feature should be also only for personal files.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used IBM Connections on premise since its birth. I have used IBM Connections Cloud for three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

All versions are developed on WebSphere Application Server. When we have a well-done installation and configuration, I can confirm that it is very stable and scalable for large environments.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have absolutely not encountered any scalability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

IBM support consists of several levels and we can also engage them by calling technical people directly. In some cases, IBM directly develops a fix for the system; later, this fix might become part of a future update.

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

Basically, I worked with IBM and the IBM Lotus product for many decades, but I also know Microsoft products, such as SharePoint, etc. I also know many new collaboration tools, but I can assert that the level of integration among the IBM products is unmatched nowadays. They are at a level that other products don't have, even if some products seem to be easier to use or more beautiful to see.

How was the initial setup?

Regarding initial setup, I distinguish between the on-premise and cloud editions:

- Cloud: Everything is active immediately and you can focus directly on the product and its features.
- On premise: There is a lot of work to install and configure the environment and it depends upon which installations you need. Initial setup might be simple or complex (for example in a cluster environment, high availability, large distribution and so on).

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

The licensing for the two editions is more or less the same, although I think IBM solutions are cheap for the value they provide. However, the market does not seem to acknowledge this point.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

As I’ve written, in the enterprise world, the competition for this product comes from Microsoft and its solutions. I do not think that integration with all services is optimal for Microsoft today. So, I chose IBM Connections and the IBM collaboration tool turned things around.

What other advice do I have?

Adoption is the key that makes the difference. If you install/use it without a clear adoption plan, this solution becomes a Black Hole, which is the case for all kinds of these solutions.

We have developed a system of adoption for both solutions, and I think that in most cases, the cloud solution of IBM Connections will be the best choice. The on-premise edition is useful only if you require significant customisation and integration with internal legacy applications.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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