HCL Connections Review

I like the files and the wikis. We use them heavily in my department.


What is most valuable?

I really like the files and the wikis, since we use that heavily in my department. Throughout the company, obviously there are different advantages for the different departments. Our sales staff is using the Activities to attract various implementation projects starting from the earliest phases in the sales process and all the way through to the delivery/final installation.

But for me personally, I love being able to collect our departmental knowledge and put it in a central place that we can look it up, so that we don't have to keep resolving the same kind of problems.

In regards to the Files application, just having a really simple way to track important files and do version control on them, as well as share them out easily, has proven to be very valuable.

What needs improvement?

Actually, I'm seeing all the previews for the IBM Connections version 6 product and I think a lot of the stuff that we would like is coming out in that version itself.

One of our VP of sales has asked for the ability to sync nested folders by using the drag and drop option, and that's going to be in there. There are some of the Community design elements, the top menu, which is something that a lot of our employees have been asking for.

So, it seems that IBM is listening to people when it comes to including new features in the latest Connections product line.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is not as stable as I would like it to be. But, mostly it is a lot more complicated than the Domino platform that we've been on for many years and because of that, with more moving parts, there are more things that can go wrong.

Overall, it is a pretty solid product. We don't have a whole lot of issues with it. Also, IBM has generally worked to try and get any of those issues resolved through their feature packs and fix packs.

We're on the latest release, so obviously at this stage, there are more problems than if you're a little bit farther behind.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We're a very small company and we have 215 employees worldwide. I know there are sites that are running hundreds or thousands of people in the system so, obviously, it scales up very well.

We have drastically overbuilt our on-premise installation for redundancy purposes - multiple HTTP servers, multiple Apps servers, multiple Docs servers, etc, and aren't really hitting any performance problems with the environment we have, but we can obviously always add more resources- more cores, more
RAM, or even more servers in general if it's needed to better support the
application.

How is customer service and technical support?

There are some people that are better than others. There are some really good and sharp people at the backend of the support side, while there are some others that we prefer not to deal with, if possible.

Which solutions did we use previously?

Our CEO is a visionary and he is always looking for a new and better way to do things. When he first saw the Connections product, it was probably about 6-7 years ago. With him, it just sort of clicked, as it was something that he could use in the business to help drive us to that next level with internal collaboration. So, he went ahead and pulled the trigger on it and it's been a slow adoption. A lot of it was trying to get all the other department heads to see the same things that he saw, and that I was able to see.

Now, we're starting to get a lot more traction to it, i.e., once we get each department to solve their specific concern for the system, such as what they're not happy with, which generally turns into what they don't understand and need some additional training on. It's been really good.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was extremely complex; a little less than what it may have been in the past. We've been a Connections user ever since version 3. We're on-premise and there's a lot of documentation that is wrong more often than not. Also, it's a very cumbersome process that often takes us about 4-6 months to get an upgrade completed, tested and ready to roll out. Thus, I feel that anything to reduce that would be appreciated. I know their new Pink strategy is supposed to help with that. I guess that we'll see when they start deploying things under that strategy.

What other advice do I have?

It's absolutely worthwhile but it is not a technology project, it is a cultural project. In order to get traction on an implementation with any social system like this, you've got to get the culture on board, before you roll out the technology. Otherwise, it's just viewed as yet another tool, that some people are going to use and some aren't.

The product's scalability, ease of use and completeness of vision are important criteria whilst selecting a vendor. One thing that I really have to give to IBM is that they do have a really good vision on what they are trying to accomplish and they're taking the product to that point. If you look at some of the competitors out there, they don't really seem to have this idea in their mind as to what they are trying to do exactly. A lot of it is, throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks or by just trying to copy features from everyone else. However, I see with the Connections platform, IBM is trying to innovate.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
1 visitor found this review helpful
1 Comment
author avatarJean-Luc Taillandier
TOP 5Real User

Hi, thank you for this article, I share it
You have cited the advantages and weaknesses, it is indeed a very complete, complex and requires a lot of parameterization effort to achieve these ends. Unfortunately this magical product remains too static and it remains very expensive in the costs of implementation and migration. I hope that one day IBM will sell a functional approach to the product and not technical function. It is however the right time to create templates of connections. I know the product since version 3, and the wiki and blog are identical to those of 10 years. When IBM create a release Banking version, a commercial version, a marketing version, after sales, a hospital version and so. It is necessary to go further and propose case studies related to the uses in the business of companies. Many partners embark on customization and methodology to cover a specific approach or functional needs. Are they in a good logic of scalability, or will it be the product in 10 years si they are customized too much their version ?

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