Groove Readies Microsoft Integration Kit

A new tool links Groove's P2P collaboration software with Microsoft SharePoint Team Services.

Groove Networks Inc. this fall will make available a new tool set to connect its peer-to-peer collaboration platform with Microsoft Corp.s SharePoint Team Services collaboration software.

The SharePoint Team Services/Groove Workspace integration kit, announced Monday, will enable team members in different companies to share files and discussions threads and manage projects while pulling data from a SharePoint Team Services knowledge repository.

This, in effect, extends the Microsoft product beyond the firewall so companies can work with customers and partners in a secure, data encrypted environment. It will also workers using information on a SharePoint Team Services Web site to continue using the data when they are offline. Once they reconnect the Groove software will synchronize the changed data with the Team Services Web site, according to officials at Groove, in Beverley, Mass., and Microsoft.

The officials said the two companies will explore extending the tool kit to other Microsoft software. A likely candidate would be the Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server, which is a data repository with more sophisticated document management capabilities than Team Services.

This spring, Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., said that versions of SharePoint Team Services and Portal Server due next year will both be built on the .Net application server and available together under the Portal Server name. They also said that Team Services would leverage Groove technologies. The new integration kit is related to that move, but not the exact route Microsoft will take in integrating the two SharePoint products, according to Trina Seinfeld, the marketing manager for Microsoft SharePoint Team Services.

HP Services, of Palo Alto, Calif., saw the need to link a distributed peer-to-peer collaboration application with one that provides centralized collaboration behind the firewall, like SharePoint Team Services, said HP Services Chief Knowledge Officer Craig Samuel.

"We have the last mile problem on the teleco front, where we have lots of broadband but we have to get it to the desktop; for me on the collaboration side of things Groove can solve the last mile problem in terms of knowledge workers collaborating," Samuel said. "It lets me [connect] customers, suppliers…and people not associated with our internal networks."

HP Services already has thousands of employees using SharePoint Team Services and is ramping up its Groove user base to an expected couple thousand later this year. The company is working to design an architecture in which teams come together in Groove Workspaces and generate new knowledge, which could then be synched back to SharePoint Team Services.

"Groove is not suited for thousands of people looking for something, but it is good for a couple dozen. It is the place where new knowledge id generated," Samuel said.

The integration tool kit with Microsoft does not rule out future Groove Workspace integrations with other software, Groove officials said.

"We are definitely interested in integration with other data repositories, including [for instance] Documentum Inc. for pharmaceuticals," Groove spokesman Richard Eckel said.