When Groove Networks released its software and announced three large customers earlier this month, it kicked off business for one of the most watched companies in the unproven peer-to-peer software market.
"There isnt a lot of P2P deployed, particularly in the B2B space," says Andrew Mahon, director of strategic marketing at Groove. But Groove believes it will show that P2P software is here to stay, and that its not just hype without a real business model behind it. That could help an industry whose inspiration comes from the popular but oft-maligned music-trading service Napster.
Groove was founded by Ray Ozzie, creator of Notes for Lotus Development. Groove makes software that lets small groups of people collaborate at one time. P2P technology tries to take advantage of the computing power of PCs, rather than working through a central server. P2P affords more direct access between computers, but raises other concerns.
"Security is a really big issue. IT organizations want to run stuff through their server to sniff it for viruses," Mahon says. Groove has encryption to defuse concerns about privacy, and policies can be set to ensure files are only downloaded from sites deemed safe.
Mahon believes the business need for a better way to collaborate is strong enough to overcome those concerns.
"You want to make it as easy as picking up the phone," Mahon says.
While Groove has been developing its product for three years, most companies have become interested in P2P technology only recently through the much-publicized fight between Napster and the recording industry.