“The end of legacy collaboration software like Microsoft SharePoint and IBM Lotus Notes is here,” boasted Marc Benioff at the announcement last week of Salesforce Chatter, social software for the Salesforce.com cloud. Hmmm… Didn’t he say that about ALL software when Salesforce.com was created?

Ask Oracle if big CRM software systems such as PeopleSoft are dead. Ask SAP, which in late January reported fiscal 2009 income of €2.64 billion. Granted, SAP’s revenue and income have shrunk, but much of that is a reflection of the state of the global economy, and not necessarily an indictment of the company’s software and services.

Chatter, and Google Buzz before it, bring social tools such as status updates and real-time feeds to the cloud. SharePoint also has those features. What Salesforce and Google do not have is the enterprise infrastructure that makes SharePoint a platform for more than collaboration: It’s a back-end data repository, has integration with productivity and development tools, and much more.

Surely SaaS and cloud computing, while still in their infancy, hold great promise for the future. But Benioff is getting a little ahead of himself when he declares that SharePoint—a billion-dollar business unit at Microsoft—and Lotus Notes have reached the end of their lives. It seems that SharePoint’s life is really just beginning.

What do you think? Write to me at drubinstein@bzmedia.com.

— David