Review: "IBM Connections on-premises: Excellent, but SMBs may want to look at the cloud version instead."
We have not yet evaluated any particular products in depth; we had fully expected to move forward with Connections on-premises.
However, we have briefly looked at SmartCloud / Connections Cloud which is, of course, very similar but maintained and updated by IBM. We have also briefly looked into Office 365 which has several advantages, being (A) Microsoft Office, (B) broadly available training (live, video, etc.) and (C) enthusiastic support from most of IT and many end users. However, Office 365 is much more expensive.
If you work in a large company with lots of IT resources experienced with IBM tech such as WebSphere, DB2, etc., then I’d change the recommendation to an 8 for IBM Connections on-premises. Users really loved working in IBM Connections despite various gaps they found, and it seems that IBM is very responsive to customer feedback. Many new features in the last few releases were first suggested by customers.
Similarly, if you work in an SMB and are looking at IBM Connections online (or SmartCloud or whatever IBM calls it these days), then I’d probably also say 8 assuming the cloud version is at least as good as the on-premises version. My guess is that the cloud version is probably better, given IBM’s cloud-first strategy, and don’t forget that the cloud version includes IBM Docs.
If, however, you are in an SMB with a budget-constrained IT staff who are mostly familiar with Microsoft and who find it difficult to work with anything non-Microsoft, then IBM Connections on-premises is probably not going to work well in your organization. I’d score it a 4 in that case. Even if it works well for end-users today, as time goes on it seems users discover more gaps with the software. IBM is not quick to put out new versions of their on-premises software, either. The primary reasons I think on-premises is a tough sell in this scenario are the high cost of consulting (which has a side effect of further delaying the introduction of new features), the lack of an office document editor built-in, and the lack of training for both IT and end-users alike.
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
No escalation required
Immediate help available
Support understands my problem
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response
Like to use
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Quick to learn
Feel confident using
Scaling UP is never an issue with IBM's core technologies like WebSphere, DB2, etc. as long as you have or can find the technical resources to implement it.
Where IBM seems to fail is scaling DOWN for smaller organizations. Connections 5.0 on-premises would have required us to create 7 servers -- yes, they would be virtualized, but still that's 7 OS licenses, 40 virtual CPU cores, 80GB RAM, and a few TB of hard disk space. All to replace Quick which runs on 1 server with 1 OS license, 4 cores, 8GB RAM and 600GB of disk. Granted, there are major differences in capabilities between the two, but how do you get a CFO understand why features like a mobile app, file sync, and social sharing require 10x the back-end resources?