HCL Connections Review

All search results take data security into consideration and users will only find data to which they actually have access.


What is most valuable?

Search functionality and notifications: The search functionality is very well developed and can be easily filtered. All search results take data security into consideration and users will only find data they actually have access to. This functionality also extends fully to the mobile app which is available for both Android and iOS.

File sharing and synchronization over the web to Windows and mobile devices: File sync is a very useful feature that allows users to synchronize files via the Connections system to Windows desktops and mobile devices (iOS and Android) automatically. Similar to how Dropbox or Google Drive would work. This feature is very useful to ensure you always have the latest versions of files available on local devices for off-line/local access.

How has it helped my organization?

It has improved collaboration between users. The ability to have a definitive location for data to collaborate around. The search and incidental discovery of content (not a function, but a main feature in my mind) are really key, as is the ability to share and - when necessary - un-share. Also, the ability for the system to interact with external users, as well, if the environment allows this type of interaction.

One of the most used features lately is the ability to invite external (non-company) users and collaborate with them. yhe integration of IBM Docs into the system has made it possible to use the product more widely and allow the interaction no matter what type of device a client is connecting with.

What needs improvement?

There is an issue with scaling the Solr Search add-on (see the scalability section).

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it since 2007, version 1.x.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

Deployment can be complex, depending on the customer environment and requirements.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

None if the system is configured correctly

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The system scales very easily, with the exception of Solr search (search type-ahead), which is only a single server install at this point and cannot be clustered. Currently, implementation only allows for a single search node, so it is a single point of failure when implementing this technology. All of the other components can be scaled and have multiple instances running on multiple physical/virtual machines for better performance and redundancy but Solr cannot.

How is customer service and technical support?

Technical support is hit-and-miss. In general, the support staff is willing, but there is a large range of capabilities among them, from mediocre to excellent. In this respect, they are not much different from most other professional support organizations, though.

Which solutions did we use previously?

I did not previously use a different solution.

How was the initial setup?

Setup is not overly difficult, but there are multiple components that need installing and integrating. Also, the documentation is not the best and the problem is not getting a base install running (that is not that hard); it is adjusting the system to the individual needs that each client has that can be challenging.

What about the implementation team?

I am an implementation specialist for Connections; I am the guy that gets called in to do the installation. Experienced clients (who have had the system for a while) can do an upgrade themselves; an initial install might be a bit more difficult without an experienced hand to help.

What other advice do I have?

Get somebody to help you with the initial planning and install. The most important part of this product is not the technology but rather the effort you put into adoption of its usage. People will not just flock to it to use it; you have to work at making it valuable to users.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: I am an IBM business partner.
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