Perforce is attempting to make a big strategic move that could expand its scope and general purview with the release this week of Commons. The firm is essentially positioning this document collaboration platform as a competing runner against Dropbox and Google Docs.
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This document collaboration tool supports all files types from large binary objects to small image files with merge capabilities for the most common document types, including Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.
Commons works by keeping track of the complete history of any file to save time in finding, revising, and collaborating on documents.
Document collaboration issues, such as merging multiple edits into a single document or confusion over the most current version of a file, occur as documents pass through many workers and many versions — these issues occur frequently and take a "sizeable toll" (says Perforce) on productivity.
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The firm quotes Bruce Painter, a software engineering manager for Amdocs: "With the addition of Commons, we're now extending Perforce across our organization to include our business teams and less technical staff. Commons ensures that everyone has access to the right file when they need it, whether it's our source code or a PowerPoint presentation."
Features include Conflict-free Collaboration so colleagues can work in parallel without writing over each other's contributions; files are easy to find and share, enabling users to always have the most up-to-date version; Commons enables shared and managed team workspaces; and Commons makes it easy for business teams to access and version files alongside the contributions of technical staff.
The firm says that customers now have a "single source of truth" for all files and documents enterprise-wide.
"When employees turn to file sharing and document collaboration systems outside their secure application infrastructure, alarms go off increasingly for IT and operations teams," said Melinda Ballou, program director for application lifecycle management and executive strategies, IDC. "Their concerns for security and compliance grow every time they read about a data leak on a hosted application. Management strategies must evolve commensurate to this flow of information and business and technical risks raised."
But analyst firm Quocirca’s Clive Longbottom provides some balancing comment on Computer Weekly. "There are problems for Perforce, though. Where it is known, it is for SCM — and trying to persuade its SCM users to allow Commons to be used across an organization may not be easy, although Perforce itself says that its customers are quite open to the proposition. Where it is not known, it has the problem of messaging — does it want to sell SCM or Commons or both? Each needs different messaging to different groups, but any one sale could cloud the sale of the other. Perforce also has to decide how it works with its channel — the SCM channel will not be well positioned to sell Commons."