How To Guy
How to Get Started with VMware's Socialcast
I admit, Socialcast isn't the typical VMware product that I write about. Its main connection to virtualization is that VMware owns Socialcast -- that's it. Socialcast is an "enterprise collaboration" tool. Think of it as a sort of "internal Facebook" for your company. In fact, it can be deployed both as a Software as a Service (SaaS) or completely behind the firewall. It's going to provide internal communication across the company in a form that e-mail just can't offer by its very design. For example, e-mail is poor when it comes to company-wide communication and also poor when it comes to threaded group conversations.
Recently, my company had some questions about our current collaboration tool and its lack of features. I recommended we look into Socialcast (both because I thought it might be able to help and because, selfishly, I wanted to checkout one of VMware's acquisitions). One of the great things about Socialcast is that it can be used completely for free. In fact, one of the reasons I wanted to write this article was to get the word out about these types of applications. I mean, really, why isn't every company today using one of these types of applications? I feel strongly that these types of internal social applications (when put to proper use) can improve company communication, engage employees in the company's agenda, enhance executive visibility, and improve company morale.
Using Socialcast in its SaaS model is super-easy. Just to go www.Socialcast.com, sign up with your e-mail address, and you can start using the Web interface right away.
Figure 1. Socialcast Web interface looks very social. (Click image to view larger version.)
Only those with the same e-mail domain as you will be able to use your socialcast account with you (that's what keeps this "internal"). From my use, I found that Socialcast, like any application, has a list of pros and cons. What I liked was:
- Socialcast was free to get started
- Its use of groups is very nice (compared to other applications like this I have used) and
- It offers a number of different ways to access Socialcast including a very nice Outlook add-in (see Fig. 2) for those who want to use Socialcast but never want to leave Outlook.
Figure 2. Socialcast allows for integration directly into Outlook via an add-in. (Click image to view larger version.)
On the other hand, I found that the desktop application wasn't as full featured, so I had to go to the Web interface to do much.
Still, I highly recommend you try it out at www.Socialcast.com.
At VMworld 2011, one of the things that came to my mind what, where is VMware going with all these SaaS applications (many of which seem like they don't have a lot to do with virtualization)? Here's a list of some of the others:
Yes, VMware really owns all these SaaS companies. Certainly, its plan is to take on Microsoft with the e-mail and enterprise collaboration options and take on companies like Dropbox with Project Octopus. As far as where else VMware goes, only time will tell.
David Davis is a well-known virtualization and cloud computing expert, author, speaker, and analyst. David’s library of popular video training courses can be found at Pluralsight.com. To contact David about his speaking schedule and his latest project, go to VirtualizationSoftware.com.