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SharePoint 2013 vs IBM Connections 4.5 Social Capabilities- Comparison from the field

This blog post was moved to https://stephaneeyskens.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/sharepoint-2013-vs-ibm-...


Whooaaa What about mobile?

Mobile is so critical now.

Here is a short video on Connections mobile.

One note, the experience is the same for IOS, Android and blackberry.

The experience is even more powerful on on an tablet with a keyboard. It's so good, the laptop can be left behind on business trips.

Wayne Jones


Hi Wayne,

Thanks for your comment. As stated in the post, I left that part out because I don't have the possibility to test it myself and it's not yet ready in the organization I'm working for. As you say, it's very important these days to have a mobile friendly platform.

It looks promising indeed and far better than SharePoint out of the box on that matter.

However, you should know that I've been working on a Mobile Social Platform a few years ago and adding NewsGator to SharePoint was doing at least the same for a very reasonable cost. On top of that, SharePoint offers mobile friendly APIs (Device Channels) to handle RESS-based concepts in a relatively easy way. My main regret with IBM Connections so far is the lach of APIs (server-side ones) and some old fashion web thingies such as returning ATOM Feeds instead of JSON for most of the RestFul APIs.

Best Regards

A few other changes

re: Share others' microblogs, in IBM Connections you can repost someone else's microblog if that's what you mean.

re: Private tags and metadata, I do this in IBM Connections by using the Tag This function. It's a bookmarklet that you install on your browser that allows you to tag and add private notes to any element within Connections (and SharePoint for that matter).

re: Out of the box extensibility, what do you mean by pretty rigid structure? In IBM Connections, you can add widgets to a community (same as adding web part to a page), you can change colors, logos, layouts, etc..

re: Content Approval, this is available in IBM Connections, just depends on which offering you buy. IBM Connections Suite and IBM Connections CCM both include this.

If you have any other questions, you can find me at http://twitter.com/lbenitez . Thanks!

Re - A few other changes

Hi Luis,

Thanks for your comment! Well, by Share Other's microblogs, I mean having a Share button like you have in NewsGator, it's a kind fo retweet on Twitter. For the tagging stuff, I don't see what you mean. By out of the box extensibility, I mean adding lists, sub sites etc..In SharePoint, you can create list of data, other document libraries and basically, any kind of element anywhere providing the proper features were activated by an admnistrator.

In IBM Connections, the only extensible template is the Community (as I say in my blog post) and what can you put inside it? Only widgets (equivalent to webparts in SharePoint) and Forums/Wikis/Blog. You can't for instance, add some lists with joins between them that store some data that you would bind to your documents and filter those documents based on that or just work with pure data. For the versions, I compared only two standard versions and only took into account the Social Aspects of SharePoint.

CCM is an add-in so I didn't consider it, otherwise I should also consider all the possible SharePoint add-ins and we'll never finish :).

Best Regards

Interesting Comparison - You missed a lot about IBM Connections

Interesting comparison and not bad overall, you clearly know a lot about Microsoft Sharepoint but it's also clear that you really don't know a lot about IBM Connections. You either left out very significant details where IBM Connections really outshines Sharepoint or you simply omitted the section all together.

Here are some examples.

Server side APIs you list a nearly nothing for IBM Connections. That couldn't be further from the truth, nearly every single feature is accessible via Rest API, it also supports OpenSocial and Javadoc in addition to SPI. - https://ibm.biz/BdRhmK

Communities is another area you brushed over all together. Communities is the equivalent of Yammer, but already fully integrated and included with all the administrative controls you'd expect. Allows for company wide-communities, restricted communities. Community customization - Add Files/Folders, Bookmarks, Media Gallery, Community Calendar, Blogs, Wikis, Status Updates/Microblogs, Ideation / group sourcing (which you had listed), mail the community, discussion forums, activites (to do and light weight project management), recent updates, sub-communities tags cloud and full text searching, social analytics, polls & surveys, custom widget integration, heck you can even integrate Sharepoint out of the box right inside an IBM Community with one of the supplied widgets.

Another area not discussed is User Profiles - IBM Connections cornerstone is the user profile, which is completely customizable and configurable to support LDAP directory integration to ANY LDAP or data source not just AD, leveraging IBM Tivoli Directory Integrator (TDI). One of the most useful features is report-to-chain.

More info - http://www-03.ibm.com/software/products/en/conn

I'm a Product Manager for IBM SmartCloud Connections - The SaaS version of IBM Connections.

Server-side API


Thanks for your reply. You say that I'm missing a lot of server-side APIs but you're actually giving the same as the ones I was talking about, meaning REST & OpenSocial.

These APIs can be consumed from both client-side & server-side but are the same APIs all in all. So, you can indeed build a Java component that would make web requests against the REST/OpenSocial API but it's not an additional API that was built specifically for server-side components. The ones I'm giving regarding SharePoint are specific server-side APIs.

Best Regards

Full list of APIs for Connections is here



Activites API
Blogs API
Bookmarks API
Communities API
Files API
Ideation API
Forums API
Profiles API
Profiles Admin API
Search API
News API
Wikis API
OpenSocial API
ActivityStream API
Event SPI
User SPI
Search Seedlist SPI
Service SPI



These are included either in the REST APIs either in the SPI, that´s why I didn't list them individually. SharePoint has also tons of endpoints you can consume and tons of event receivers hooks ( when a list/item/user/site/group/field is added/edited/modified/checked in/checked out...). Basically, SharePoint has tons of hooks:

  • 10 hooks on Lists (List Added, List Removed, Field Added, Field Removed, Field Edited, Field Adding....)
  • 20 hooks on items & documents (checked-in, checked-out, added/edited/deleted/attachement added....
  • 1 hook on e-mail enabled lists (when an e-mail is received by a list)
  • 8 hooks on site events (site added/deleted/adding/deleting...)
  • 4 hooks on workflow events

So, in total, you already have 43 hooks, all included in the Event Receivers API. For the REST endpoints, it's even more. You can nearly read/write anything from SharePoint, not only Social related things.

Best wregards

Missing aspects


Thanks for your reply and as stated, I'm indeed not an IBM Connections expert but I compared two OOTB setups. For the REST APIs, you're right, you can do quite a lot with them and the Playground on Greenhouse demonstartes its power. However, you have similar REST APIs in SharePoint which go even further since they are OData compatible OOTB.

This is something lacking in IBM Connections although this is very important to be able to apply filtering/selection etc...to minimize bandwidth consumption. What I left out of the benchmark is the mobile aspects of IBM Connections which seem to go further but I did it because I've never had the opportunity to test the mobile version myself.

Regarding the other APIs, SharePoint is providing a full server-side object model + a full App Model that enables to leverage the .NET plaform and even other technologies such as Java, PHP...whatever. Not only SharePoint offers more APIs but it also offers indistrualized deployment mechanisms.

Overall, regarding pure Social related aspects, IBM Connections gives a better impression since it's entirely focused around Social, which isn't the case of SharePoint. I've been working with Newsgator which you probably know and I must say that adding NewsGator on top of SharePoint really makes SharePoint a social platform which is clearly at least as good as IBM Connections but meahwhile, you keep all the extensibility aspects of SharePoint plus its native integration with all the other typical workstations products such as Ms Office, Windows etc...

Now, what I regret the most with IBM Connections is the lack of transparency, the impossibility to have a trial version to learn it and the lack of good in-depth technical documentation. I've been watching a lot of videos (Connect or others) and what is presented is usually functional stuff but when you need to put your hands in the code, it becomes much more complex to find interesting resources in the community or on the IBM Wiki.

I've been in touch with IBM people (consultants, sales & account managers) and they couldn't point me to better documentation...

Best Regards

I'd agree. Missing aspects and a bit one-sided.

The entire UI of Connections is based on the accessibility of the REST API's. Meaning, you can (if desired) rewrite the entire front end using those API's That's how powerful they are. You may want to take another look. You mention it's a good idea for IBM to use open social. I'd agree, it's been in there, for quite a while. Why isn't it in SharePoint? OData does allow some niceties, but it's Microsoft proprietary and very difficult to leverage unless you are 100% all in bed with MS.
From a deployment perspective, loading files, is not much different then SharePoint actually. If you are deploying new code you can do that right through the web browser to the Websphere admin console.

From a social standpoint, SharePoint cannot compare to Connections. MS will tell you that. They will tell you that's why you need Yammer (but it too is limited and requires a ton of development) or a 3rd party product like Beezy. Maybe SharePoint 2019, but that remains to be seen and at this point, if MS does do more, I can only imagine things turning sour with Beezy.

Connections allows you to customize and do further development if you want to make the investment, but all the social features advertised are out of the box. The other aspect I like is the extensibility because of those REST API's. As long as you have a common auth scheme you can integrate anything with it and extend Connections to anything.