Bitrix24 is trying to build a social collaboration alternative to Microsoft Yammer and Salesforce Chatter. The latest move: Bitrix24's business social media platform (available in the cloud or on-premises) now integrates with Google Docs. And in so doing, Bitrix24 could be helping to reshape the contours of cloud computing and redefine what "private" really means.
We first covered Bitrix24 back in January shortly after the company launched its intranet platform, which combines project management, file syncing, social networking, CRM and more into a single package designed for small businesses and enterprises. Back then, the focus was mainly on delivering services that would stay behind the corporate firewall.
But this week, Bitrix24 took a big step outside the private cloud by adding several major new features to the platform. These include:
- Integration with Google Apps/Google Docs. That connects the platform to a popular public cloud service in a novel way.
- Releasing a desktop app, called Bitrix24.Disk, that allows users to store, edit and sync documents between individual computers. (Alas, it currently supports only Windows and Mac OS X, leaving us Linux fans out in the cold for now.) Like the Google Docs integration, this feature pushes the boundaries of the private-cloud service by providing a stronger localized component for users who want it.
- Finally, Bitrix24 has added video-chat support based on the open-source WebRTC protocol. This resource doesn't necessarily reach out of the private cloud, but it does expand opportunities for communication and collaboration across both the local intranet and the public Internet -- all while providing an alternative to Skype that may reduce concerns over security and privacy for some enterprise customers.
Bitrix24 remains in beta, but claims more than 60,000 users since launching in April 2012. The company also is building a partner network -- including a range of consultants who can deploy the service for end-customers.