Collaboration Gets Easier

Groove, meeting maker aim to simplify business tasks.

Groove Networks Inc. and meeting Maker Inc. are rolling out software designed to make it easier for enterprises to add collaborative elements to their business tasks.

Version 3.0 of the Groove peer-to-peer collaboration platform, which was released in a public beta version late last week, is designed for teams of workers spread out at different locations. Separately, Meeting Maker this week will announce a collaborative time management application called Resource Scheduler for Microsoft Corp.s Outlook/Exchange.

Chief among the new features in Groove 3.0 is a forms tool that enables users to design lightweight applications for project and business process management. The forms tool supports the generation of scripts or macros using JavaScript or VBScript as well as a Web services API to import data from enterprise applications, according to Groove officials in Beverly, Mass.

In addition, the Groove user interface has been enhanced, particularly in the area of file management. In the new version, the Windows Explorer tool on a users PC becomes a Groove Workspace and can be synchronized across other users PCs, lessening reliance on e-mail for file transfer. Other interface improvements include Groove LaunchPad, a new starting point for managing Workspaces, contacts, and presence and awareness; and Workspace Explorer, an interface for working within Workspaces.

Version 3.0 also sports enhanced security and identity management through native support for an organizations public-key infrastructure for identity authentication, plus centralized usage and data auditing and improved directory integration, company officials said.

Marlborough Savings Bank is using Groove 2.5 now for secure instant messaging and for exchanging information in collaborative work spaces. Jeff Tucker, assistant vice president for IS at the bank, said the file-sharing capabilities in Version 3.0 would make it easier for his employees to share files without e-mail.

"Since a customers information in this business is so critical, none of that can be in e-mail," said Tucker, in Marlboro, Mass. "Thats like sending a postcard through the mail."

Tucker said Grooves 192-bit encryption gives him confidence in sharing sensitive information with trusted sources.

Meanwhile, Meeting Maker is extending its Resource Scheduler product line via integration with Microsofts calendaring technology. This will enable users to book people and resources, such as conference rooms and equipment, using the Outlook interface. Server integration prevents double booking, said Meeting Maker officials in Waltham, Mass.

Meeting Maker also will announce Version 7 of Resource Scheduler, with support for reserving partitioned or combined rooms. It also supports a feature whereby meeting attendees are informed of meeting times and other support staff is notified of setup/tear-down times.

The Quick Reserve feature in Resource Scheduler 7 includes user-defined fields so that common bookings unique to an organization can be accomplished in a single process, as well as 24-hour time display for European and government organizations.