James Governor's Monkchips

On Microsoft Sharepoint, wikis: Atlassian and Socialtext

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Microsoft has historically done well when its products spread like invasive species. Today: SharePoint is growing like Kudzu in the US South-East so it makes perfect sense that Microsoft would partner with wiki companies, whose technologies have followed similar adoption vectors.

I agree with Andy Lark: “Sharepoint is going to be a major force in Corporate blogging and participatory platforms.”

Yesterday Ross Mayfield, CEO of SocialText called me and a few others out for having “short memories”. I was quoted in a Dennis Howlett ZDNEt blog like so:

“In its partnering strategy, Microsoft seems far less obsessed in killing its platform competitors. Not everyone else has to fail. Sharepoint is growing like a weed in a lot of organizations. It has interesting implications for others in the wiki space – SocialText being an example.”

Ross, the reason I mentioned Socialtext is not that I forgot you, but because I remembered your partnership around Socialpoint. I thought it important to mention you in the context of a story about Microsoft partnering with Atlassian. We would be happy to hear from you any time, Ross. RedMonk is one of the select analyst companies to really get social software.

Why do we know Atlassian so well? Perhaps its our developer focus which has meant we have been in ongoing dialogue with the company for some time around its other products such as Bamboo for continuous integration and JIRA for issue tracking. Or perhaps its just because I once bought Jeffrey Walker, the company’s chairman a pint of Guinness at a Scoble and Hugh pubcrawl. Anyway – full disclosure time. Atlassian is a recently signed client.

We were pre-briefed on its integration with SharePoint, which I think is goodness. So when Dennis asked me about it I felt able to comment. Would I say that Socialtext is now an “also ran”? No – but the fact Microsoft is now also partnering with Confluence does have implications for you.

My take on the Atlassian Microsoft deal is something like Stewart Mader’s.

“When tools like SharePoint and Confluence can work together, it helps organizations that already have SharePoint feel more confident responding to demand for a wiki like Confluence, knowing the two can work side-by-side.

The fact Atlassian’s culture and platform is so different from Microsoft’s – its on the Java and open source and agile engineering continent – and yet the two found common ground is interesting. The integration is fairly substantive – you will be able to for example provision Confluence users from Active Directory. Search will cover content in both platforms, and Confluence will be able to access SharePoint document functionality.

Because Atlassian decision-makers have historically tended to be somewhat technically oriented, folks in organisations with strong development cultures, which is not so much the case with SharePoint or Socialtext, the Microsoft deal offers some nice white space for Atlassian. It will be interesting to see what implications the deal has for its sales model.

Martin also calls out Zoli who says:

“Just removing the “we’re a SharePoint-shop” political obstacle in some major enterprise clients is worth it alone.”

Until I see some user adoption of the joint solutions it will be hard to say whether Socialtext or Atlassian is winning more customers through their partnerships with Microsoft. The fact is I haven’t come across either in “in the wild” yet. Also – need to hear which if either Microsoft is actually reselling.

Ross- might I recommend a Socialpoint case study area on your web site? If you’d like to brief RedMonk on it we’d be more than happy to hear from you.

Update: I edited this piece to reflect the fact the Stewart’s comment had been stripped by a third party without clear attribution. Stewart actually works at Atlassian, but I left the comment in, with correct linkage.


  1. Heh, nifty, I actually have some first hand experience to talk about for once.

    Atlassian is, from the experience with Wikis that I have, pretty badass. The capacity to switch between wysiwyg and textile formatting along with the general interface makes it *way* nicer to use than MediaWiki. The install that my company is running has a lot of very useful plugins an widgets installed. In particular, my group is exploiting the watch tracker to keep a list of who is interested in the services we provide.

    However, it’s got at least one boneheaded, fundamental drawback: the wiki’s email integration support is garbage. Our wiki admin and I scoured their plugin repository and documentation for some way to send digest emails for watches to an arbitrary email address (my team wants to monitor changes to our wiki, so we want daily changes sent to our team email list) and we found *nuthin*.

    I thought that this would be offset by the fact that an individual user can get a daily summary of changes to pages, but what I failed to notice is that the daily summary is for EVERY page that the user has view access to. Since everyone in the corporation has access access to most pages, that email is miles long.

  2. Hi James —

    Good to meet you. I apologize for not introducing you to Socialtext earlier.

    The interesting thing is that Socialtext is a LAMP stack commercial open source offering. With SocialPoint and Sharepoint, similar to your point above, this is validation of a Best-of-Breed offering from a different culture and platform.

    Socialtext Open is available from an OSI Certified Open Source License, the Common Public Attribution License that we pioneered. I would point this out as a difference if two of Microsoft’s licenses didn’t just go through the certification process.

    Zoli is right that a primary benefit of having SocialPoint is removing barriers for Sharepoint shops. But from the customers and prospects I met at the Microsoft Global CIO Summit last month, the interesting conversation is beyond the barrier in delivering a real and adoptable business solution.

    Yes, we have to continue to execute, as being first isn’t enough. I’m glad you remembered us and look forward to our first conversation.


  3. great stuff danno. it would be cool to chat some more about your experiences.

    Hi Ross. Its good to meet you, too. I didn’t want to make too many assumptions about your business but would like to catch up soon to hear more.

  4. Hi James – Eugene Lee here. I’m “CEO 2.0” for Socialtext, but you and I met during my previous gig with Adobe. Would be happy for Ross and I to update you if you are still interested.

  5. […] it’s easy to shove any open source web page management thing (a CMS ;>) in front of the SharePoint train to see what happens. SharePoint, of course, is more focused on behind-the-firewall content […]

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