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Bitrix Brings Collaboration Into Cloud

Virtual Appliance 2.0 lets SMBs add social networking to the platforms that host email and customer relationship management.
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Bitrix has introduced a virtual appliance which adds cloud-based support for social features to two of its existing products.

The Bitrix Virtual Appliance 2.0, allows the Bitrix Intranet portal or Site Manager content management system (CMS) to be installed in VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Parallels Virtuozzo, or Amazon EC2 environments. Social business functions can now live on the same server platform as email and customer relationship management (CRM), the company said.

The Bitrix Virtual Appliance 2.0 runs both social collaboration and e-commerce functionality as part of a cloud-based Intranet or Internet solution. It is designed for small and midsized businesses (SMBs) and claims to cut overall Web costs by 50%.

The announcement represents Bitrix's answers to some of the most pressing questions in the business social networking space. Should this be a separate program or an add-on? Bitrix says an add-on. Where should it live? Bitrix makes it part of a CMS. Does it need to be a separate piece of hardware or software? Bitrix suggests it should not. Bitrix is also trying to answer some larger questions. How are you going to get people to use this stuff? By integrating it with existing functionality. And how are you going to get managers to trust this stuff? With patience and security built-in.

Sergei Rizhikov, a Russian national, founded Bitrix in 1998, with an American office in Alexandria, Va. The company is a major player in the Russian software market, and is becoming a major American Intranet player as well. It has partner status with Microsoft, Oracle, and mySQL and is privately held. The company may be best known for having sponsored a competition in 2009 designed to test its own security.

In a blog post the week the software dropped, marketing director Denis Zenkin wrote that SMBs have not yet moved toward the cloud or software as a service (SaaS) because they don't trust the new technology.

"Trust kills paranoia. The collaboration software vendors are obligated, therefore, to educate the market, foster trust, and dispel the common misperceptions. It takes time," Zenkin wrote just a few days after Bitrix announced a host of new security and back-up features for its software.

Security and patience seem to be the keywords to Bitrix' strategy.