Groove Spreads Collaboration to Remote Users

Upgrade to peer-to-peer collaboration platform includes new capabilities that allow users to create lightweight applications.

Groove Networks Inc. is launching an upgrade to its flagship peer-to-peer collaboration platform designed to make it easier for enterprises to add a collaborative element to their business tasks.

The company on Monday will release a public beta of Groove 3.0, which has enhancements geared toward teams of workers spread out at different locations.

The upgrade represents Beverly, Mass.-based Groove Networks first ever public beta.

Chief among the new features in this version is a new forms tool, which company officials said enables users to design their own 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.

The overall user interface in Groove has been improved as well, particularly in the area of file management. In this version, Windows Explorer on a users PC becomes a Groove workspace and can be synchronized across other users PCs, lessening reliance on e-mail for file transfer.

Groove user Jeff Tucker said he liked this new file sharing capability.

"Its the perfect solution for people who are working remotely or mobile and have to collaborate across different networks," said Tucker, assistant vice president for information systems at Marlborough Savings Bank, which is using Groove 2.5 now for secure IM and for exchanging information in collaborative workspaces.

Other new interface improvements in Version 3.0 include Groove LaunchPad, a new starting point for managing workspaces, contacts, and presence and awareness; Workspace Explorer, a new interface for working within Groove Workspaces; and new visual and audible alerts of user presence activities.

Interface improvements should help as well, as usability is key to the softwares success in any environment, Tucker said.

"You can spend a lot of money on software like this, but if your users dont understand it, youre sunk," said Tucker, in Marlboro, Mass.

Groove Networks, whose technology has a hybrid model of peer-to-peer clients tied to a server backbone, is also releasing a new Enterprise Management Server designed to improve security and identity management of the technology within an enterprise. The Enterprise Management Server includes native support for an organizations public key infrastructure for identity authentication, plus centralized usage and data auditing and improved directory integration, company officials said.

Groove 3.0 also added new .Net Web services APIs to its Enterprise Integration Server, which also supports Windows Server 2003.

(Editors Note: This story has been updated because the date of the release of the public beta of Groove 3.0 in the original posting was inaccurate, due to a reporting error.)

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