VMware Acquires Socialcast, Adds Enterprise Collaboration To Cloud Platform

The acquisition follows a number of other recent acquisitions which VMware is using to further develop its end-user computing model of providing secure access to applications from any location or device while embracing new collaboration and communications technology, VMware said.

San Francisco-based Socialcast develops real-time enterprise collaboration platforms. The company's software can be delivered as a hosted service, a private cloud implementation, or via an on-premise solution. Socialcast's customers can deploy the software to create a social layer across business systems and employee communication channels to help facilitate information-sharing, knowledge transfer across geography, employee engagement, and task management, VMware said.

Terms of the acquisition were not provided.

VMware's cloud computing platform was designed as a way to allow multiple cloud vendors and their partners to build applications for customers on a common platform, and so the acquisition of Socialcast could compete with partners developing similar applications.

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However, that should not be considered an issue, wrote Javier Soltero, CTO of cloud applications for VMware in an emailed response to CRN.

"VMware remains fully committed to delivering an open platform," Soltero wrote. "Socialcast's enterprise social platform is further validation of this given its focus on integration and extension of existing applications. It's one of the main things that attracted us to it in the first place. Companies who choose to use other technologies that may provide similar functionality will always have the option of leveraging all our technologies from vSphere, to CloudFoundry, to Horizon and if they choose they can augment their enterprise social capabilities using Socialcast."

Socialcast becomes another piece in VMware's end user computing portfolio, which includes VMware View desktop virtualization, ThinApp, SlideRocket, and Zimbra. End user computing is a big part of VMware's push into cloud computing, an opportunity which the company tells partners is many times larger than the one around virtualization.

VMware in April acquired SlideRocket, a startup which developed a SaaS application for building business presentations that are stored online. Through a Web-based interface, users can handle all parts of the process, from designing slides and compiling content, to reviewing documents and publishing and delivering them.

The company early last year bought Yahoo's Zimbra, the developer of the open-source Zimbra Collaboration Suite, which includes applications to coordinate, manage, and share e-mails from multiple vendors, including Microsoft's Outlook, in a single interface; perform group scheduling; and handle desktop and mobile device synchronization.

VMware CTO Steve Herrod, in a Tuesday blog post, wrote that enterprise communication tools in the last 30 years are still focused on inboxes, outboxes, folders, and printed documents. "These tools have dramatically improved our productivity, but the increasing volume of information can be overwhelming and requires manual prioritization and organizational work to keep up with this data deluge," he wrote.

Businesses today are seeing user activities stream across multiple groups of users, and need a way to ensure those streams are targeting only the right people and are secured, archived, and searchable, Herrod wrote.

Socialcast has developed an enterprise collaboration platform which offers such capabilities, but which also offers four important unique traits, he wrote.

They include the ability to integrate social capabilities across multiple applications instead of being embedded in a single application; the ability for users with multiple types of client devices, operating systems, platforms, and even clouds to securely collaborate; the ability to deploy on-premise or off-premise as a SaaS offering or as a VMware virtual appliance; and the ability for enterprises to build their own collaboration applications, Herrod wrote.

Kevin McLaughlin contributed to this story.