Central Desktop launched the Spring 2007 Release of its collaboration platform. Of most interest in this release is that Central Desktop is introducing "a turnkey Intranet" for its enterprise subscribers. Key features of the turnkey intranet include easy setup (without coding or "wikifying" it), a company directory and calendar, password protection for documents, Office 2007 document index support, workspace archiving, an auto-save feature while editing documents, and a dynamic interface that displays personalized data for each user.Today
Central Desktop is a web-based groupware product which currently has 30,000+ users worldwide. See our review of the product in February, at which time Central Desktop announced an online spreadsheets feature using EditGrid. At that point I compared the product to 37Signal's Basecamp - as it had features including collaborative document editing (wikis), Web and audio conferencing, discussion threads and versioned file tracking. But with the latest announcement of a turnkey intranet, it seems that Central Desktop is becoming more like Google Apps.
Isaac Garcia, CEO of Central Desktop, says in today's press release:
"Right out of the box, users will have a powerful, fresh Intranet that complements their project-centric workspaces and wikis. Our research showed that most of our customers were already using Central Desktop as a departmental or team Intranet to share bookmarks, files and company announcements, so we decided to make it easier for them."
Is this the Age of Instant Intranets?
I've used the term "instant intranet" a few times before, to describe Web-based office products. In particular when it was discovered last September that Google had a Personalized Start Page for Enterprise product in the works. It turned out it was a part of Google's "Apps for your Domain" office package, which then morphed into a more fully-fledged Office Suite called Google Apps - which includes Google Docs & Spreadsheets. While I admit it's stretching it to call even Google Apps an instant intranet, my main point was (and still is) that it is very easy to set up an office intranet using Google's web-based office tools - or for that matter Netvibes, Pageflakes and other start pages.
Coming back to Central Desktop's news, they make the point that their product can be used to house "dynamic content such as company announcements, workspace activities, RSS Feeds, popular bookmarks and favorite links [that] "bubble up" from the various workspaces - creating a real-time, "always fresh" company Intranet."
Part of my background is as a Web Manager for enterprises, where I was in charge of building the intranets of my employers. Back then (before the days of RSS, so we're talking ye olden days here!) the best way to build Intranets was to custom code them. Then a little later it was all about implementing heavy-duty - and very complex - Intranets using a CMS like Vignette or Interwoven TeamSite. But nowadays it seems a whole lot easier - and much more lightweight and painless - to use turnkey browser-based solutions like Central Desktop or Google Apps.
Do you agree that the age of Instant Intranets has well and truly arrived? Take part in this week's Read/WriteWeb poll and let us know your thoughts in the comments.