Colligo Networks on Monday announced a plug-in that will support IBMs Workplace Client Technology, Micro Edition—also known as Workplace Micro Environment (WCTME) Version 5.7—which IBM also announced Monday. Colligos plug-in is designed to enable secure, private database replication and peer-to-peer messaging.
The plug-in, named Colligo Enterprise Edition, is slated for fourth-quarter release. According to Barry Jinks, president and CEO of Colligo Networks Inc., the software is designed to take advantage of the “intermittent” mode in the three modes IBM Workplace is designed to cover: connected, disconnected and intermittent modes.
Colligo views “intermittent” as a description of when workers are disconnected from a network but connected to their coworkers, as would happen with a team of employees in the field—for example, a team of accountants on-site at a client location. In such a scenario, Colligo collaborators could replicate data back and forth via an Ethernet, wireless or any such IP connection.
Jinks described IBMs new Workplace offerings as being revolutionary in that the server-managed client architecture offers the total cost of ownership of a thin-client browser when youre not connected to the Internet.
“Thats important. We need a thick client on the desktop for people to use in the field,” Jinks said in Vancouver. “With a browser-based architecture, like a portal, IT has the advantage of managing the software centrally. You can change it on the server, and its reflected immediately through the browser.”
Colligo Enterprise Edition works with Outlook and Notes clients and also allows users to extend Windows and Palm operating systems so that collaborators can drag and drop files onto icons that represent their coworkers systems.
The companys instant-networking technology configures laptops to set up a local network that then sends out discovery packets, so that users can see which people and resources are on the network. Users can then share printers or Internet connections as well as update databases that are then replicated when they sync up.
Server in a Box
Lamont Long, IT director at Crowe Chizek and Co. LLC, an accounting firm based in Indianapolis, Ind., said his firm turned to Colligo after seeking in vain a way to replicate Notes databases without having to lug an entire server-in-a-box to client sites.
Before the firm started implementing the Notes plug-in in fall 2003, each team would lug a custom-made travel case containing a laptop that functioned as a server, an Ethernet hub, a printer, a scanner, cables and power strips. The firm had about 200 of these kits that teams would sign out when they hit the road.
Besides the shoulder-aching problem of non-luggability, the firm also found that the servers would sometimes get lost, dropped, sat on or dumped on on-site.
Tony Havranek, the firms manager of AWP (Automated Workpaper, an internal nickname for a group of highly customized and transportable Notes databases set up for sharing auditable work papers), said he was getting an average of three to five help calls on the remote servers. Since the firm finishing implementing Colligo in January, hes had only one call.
“To a programmer, its amazing,” Havranek said. “To think you dont need a server to replicate with another user just seems … surprising.”
The accountancy is now using Colligos plug-in for its 700 field accountants. The workgroup takes an Ethernet hub. Workgroup members plug in the Ethernet on-site and launch the Colligo client on their laptops. The client then determines whos on the local network and begins to replicate between connected systems using the features and functions typically found on the server.
Crowe Chizek is looking to go wireless eventually but will hold off until the firm feels comfortable about the security Colligo can provide. Havranek said the firm is also hoping to adopt Colligo to partner with clients so that when accountants go to a client site, they can download their clients documents, including, for example, preliminary financial statements and accounting schedules.
Whats particularly attractive about the current setup of AWP and Colligo, Long said, is that it helps to satisfy requirements about data retention and auditing stipulated by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. “People can share the same database and add comments to a rich text data field, and theyd be available and visible and wed know who did it,” he said.
Pricing for Colligo Enterprise Edition has not yet been determined, but the products precursor, Workgroup Edition, costs $70 per seat. That pricing allows for extension of the Windows operating system. For $110 per seat, Workgroup Edition ships with a Lotus Notes plug-in to allow for Notes database replication.
The Workgroup Edition is geared toward small workgroups where configuration and management is done locally by the workgroup itself.
The Enterprise Edition will be centrally managed by enterprise IT via the server-managed client architecture so that the IT department can provision the client with things such as security policies or extract from client systems audit trails from transactions that occurred on the road.