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NewsGator Looks Beyond SharePoint Amid Yammer Tie

Microsoft today said its $1.2 billion acquisition of Yammer has resulted in record growth for the cloud-based provider of enterprise social networking. At the same time, Yammer's key rival NewsGator plans to extend the reach of its enterprise social networking platform beyond SharePoint.

In a vague news release announcing the growth of Yammer, Microsoft disclosed that sales quadrupled last quarter and the total user base grew to seven million. During the quarter, 290 new customers added Yammer including GlaxoSmithKline, SABMiller and TGI Fridays, among others.

Since the deal closed last year and Yammer was folded into the Office Division, Microsoft has said little about how it will integrate Yammer into SharePoint. What Microsoft has revealed is that it will integrate Yammer with SkyDrive Pro, the cloud-based storage Microsoft is offering with SharePoint 2013 and Office 365. Yammer will also give SharePoint users the ability to preview and edit SharePoint files from their Yammer news feeds via Office Web Apps.

These two features, slated for release this summer, will make it easier for users to find and share information in the Yammer interface. While Microsoft hasn't said how and when it will more tightly integrate Yammer into SharePoint, NewsGator does not see it as a threat. NewsGator has a large installed base of large enterprise customers (many with tens of thousands of employees) and the company will start to become less focused on SharePoint as its primary platform, as reported by Computerworld last week.

Brian Kellner, NewsGator's VP of products, told me that while the report was accurate, he went a little deeper explaining that doesn't mean its social networking tools won't continue to support SharePoint. "We're not ending our SharePoint integration," Kellner said. "We have a great business on SharePoint but we have other things we can do to extend that value."

NewsGator is adding connections to Salesforce.com's Chatter, the company's software-as-a-service-based enterprise social networking offering and with SAP applications. Kellner said NewsGator is also focusing on helping bridge between SharePoint running on premise and Office 365, as well as securing mobile access running in a Microsoft Windows Azure-based service rather than requiring VPN access.

"These are all investments that are stretching out away from SharePoint but still it's running on top of SharePoint," Kellner said. Looking ahead, NewsGator is looking to offer the core logic of its Social Sites without requiring SharePoint. "Today Social Sites must have SharePoint but at some point we'll have something that doesn't have to have SharePoint." When? Perhaps later this year he said.

But he emphasized that doesn't mean the company is walking away from SharePoint. "It's not an either-or proposition," he said, noting last week the company issued a new release that will let organizations use Social Sites on both SharePoint 2010 and 2013 using the same code base. This is important, he noted, because organizations are likely to run SharePoint farms with both versions for many years to come.

If adding social networking to SharePoint is on your roadmap, are you going to rely on what Microsoft brings forward with Yammer, or are you going to use third parties like NewsGator to extend your social networking footprint? Drop me a line at jschwartz@1105media.com.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/20/2013 at 1:15 PM


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