Bring it on, IBM!

IBM just announced Lotus Connections. According to this article in Business Week, Lotus Connections wraps five social networking technologies up into one integrated package: profiles, where employees post information about their expertise and interests; communities, which are formed and managed by people with common interests; activities, which are used to manage group projects; bookmarks, where people share documents and websites with others; and blogs.

Microsoft was quick to reply with a press release announcing new tools that will help IBM Lotus Notes users migrate to Microsoft SharePoint 2007.

So we have Microsoft SharePoint 2007 versus IBM's Lotus Connections. But how is IBM going to compete with SharePoint's many third-party hosted service providers? Or with Google for that matter (think Google calendar, Google spreadsheets, Google's Blogger, Google search, Google pages, Google wiki/JotSpot, ...)?

With that in mind, now consider this. Many organizations have been experimenting with Drupal and see real benefits from using it. They are begging for reliable support. One or two years from now, they'll be begging for better integration with their existing tools and platforms.

It doesn't take a whole lot of IBM'ers to get Drupal to talk with Lotus Connections, to get Drupal up to par with SharePoint, or for IBM to become the world's premier Drupal support company. It is a small investment for a win-win situation.

IBM embraced Linux so they know how to do this, and they know how well that worked. It helped IBM turn around some of its business and strengthened their position in the server market. The battle has since moved up the stack and Lotus is to Drupal what AS/400 was to Linux. It will be interesting to see if IBM is going to repeat history and embrace an open source alternative.