Mainsoft opens SharePoint blogs, wikis, My Sites to IBM developers

Mainsoft looks to bring rival IBM and Microsoft technologies closer with new software that integrates SharePoint's social networking perks with IBM's Rational Team Concert.

Mainsoft's latest bid to bridge competing IBM and Microsoft worlds is software that will weave SharePoint's social networking perks into the IBM Rational Team Concert software development platform.

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Mainsoft 2.0 for SharePoint and Rational Team Concert (RTC) lets developers use the blogs and wikis in SharePoint's My Site portal to share team development artifacts and incorporate SharePoint's Personal Profiles into analogous user profiles in IBM Rational Jazz. (Jazz is the IBM group development environment that underlies RTC.) VARs can use the tool to foster collaboration in mixed shops much as they use other Mainsoft tools to link Lotus Notes/Domino to Microsoft SharePoint Server.

The existing Mainsoft 1.0 product already provides some linkage between RTC and SharePoint in that it allows development documents to be stored in SharePoint group folders, which can be searched, accessed and published from SharePoint's own menu and from an RTC integrated development environment view.

The problem Mainsoft targets is that even the most techie developers don't work in a vacuum. They must collaborate on documents written by people who aren't developers and view these documents in the context of their own project, said Thorsten Hoffman, technology architect for BearingPoint GmbH in Frankfurt, Germany. He has not checked out the new social networking integration yet, but he has used Mainsoft 1.0.

BearingPoint programmers can use SharePoint to store their documents and route them through the approval process. For the nonprogrammers on the project, SharePoint is a familiar and easy-to-use tool.

Both IBM and Microsoft want existing shared customers to move entirely into their stack but that's not a realistic strategy for companies, said Bill Phelps, chief technology officer for Champion Solutions Group, a Boca Raton, Fla. infrastructure IT consultant that also sells Microsoft and IBM software.

For CSG, as technology consumer, Mainsoft helps preserve its investment in Lotus Notes/Domino.

"We've been on Notes from the get-go, and we're not a big enough shop to even contemplate a rip-and-replace and to go to SharePoint and Exchange," said WHO. "We have a lot of integration built in with [IBM] Sametime, which we like better than [the Microsoft instant messaging product].

We also looked at [IBM Lotus] Quickr and WebSphere and SharePoint [for collaboration]. WebSphere is a huge undertaking for a shop our size, so we went with SharePoint about a year ago."

Tony Baer, senior analyst for Ovum, said products like Mainsoft`enable workers to keep using the tools they're accustomed to. "There's a lot of SharePoint out there," he said.

The linkage to SharePoint's social tools converts the information flow from a push to pull model, Baer added.

Later this month, Mainsoft plans to update its SharePoint Integrator for Lotus Notes, adding support for a Notes 8.5 release. It will include SharePoint calendar integration and a way to enforce SharePoint's taxonomy.

This story was updated Thursday morning with analyst comment.

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