Home Evaluation Checklist For Enterprise Microblogging Tools

Evaluation Checklist For Enterprise Microblogging Tools

The enterprise microblogging and discussion marketplace continues to evolve, as this week TheFlowr.com announced new features and pricing. As we have covered in the past, Socialcast has been acquired by VMware, Yammer has partnered with Netsuite, and a number of traditional enterprise vendors are putting forth their own offerings in this market too.

In addition to the above players, we have written extensively about Identi.ca and Socialtext.com and also mentioned Tibbr.com, Cisco’s Quad, Salesforce.com’s Chatter and Novell’s Pulse. Two vendors that are in this space that haven’t gotten much link love from us include:

Covering this market is difficult: SaaS vendors love to tweak their pricing, disappear without warning, be acquired and then devolve into a minor feature of the acquiring company, or just decide to eliminate a product line (as Flowr did for its appliance version, deciding to focus strictly on SaaS). So to help you, we have put together a short checklist if you are thinking about deploying these sorts of tools in your organization.

  • Presently, which has both a free Web-hosted SaaS account and a version to download to a Linux server, starting at $2,000,
  • Yonkly, which has several different packaged software versions that start as low as $199.

Here are some things to look for in your evaluation:

  • Do you need software that runs behind your firewall, or can you use their hosted service and set up a private group that is only accessible for your employees? Presently and Socialtext offer both SaaS hosted and a standard download you can run on your own equipment, while others such as Flowr only have SaaS versions.
  • Do they integrate with your existing LDAP or Active Directory services so you don’t have to create an entire series of user logins from scratch?
  • Speaking of integration, what is the status of their APIs and what can you do with them? Presently has an API very similar to Twitter’s, for example.
  • Do you need file sharing integrated into the product, so your users can access a common repository of saved documents from within the discussions themselves?
  • Do they work with mobile phone users and stripped-down browsers adequately? Some, like Flowr, have a separate mobile app that you can deploy.
  • What other enterprise apps do they integrate with? SAP’s Streamwork, Socialtext and Yammer have integration with other tools that you might be using.
  • Finally, what is the ultimate cost per user when you want to deploy the application? Some charge by the user per month or per year, some have a one-time price for packaged software that you install yourself (such as Presently on a Linux server in your own datacenter) or as an appliance (such as Socialtext), some offer customized pricing based on a variety of factors (such as Socialtext), and others offer limited-feature freemium pricing, such as Flowr (free for up to 5 users), Yammer and Presently (free and paid versions).

Feel free to comment on your favorite microblogging service, and here is a link to our previous Flowr coverage.

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