Groove Updates Peer Software, Strikes Deal With Dell

Groove Networks today will announce Version 1.3 of its Groove peer-to-peer software, as well as new enterprise servers and a 10,000-seat deal with Dell.

Groove Networks Inc. today will announce Version 1.3 of its Groove peer-to-peer software, new enterprise servers and a 10,000-seat deal with Dell Computer Corp.

The new version of Groove is the first to incorporate integration with Microsoft Corp. products as the result of a deal struck between the companies two weeks ago. For instance, Groove can be incorporated into Microsoft Word for simultaneous document editing between two or more people.

Similar functionality will be extended to PowerPoint and Excel, but the timeframe has not been released. Groove will also be able to set up shared spaces using Windows Messenger, Microsofts instant messaging program. In addition, Groove officials said, Version 1.3 has been certified as Windows XP compatible.

Ironically, Groove, whose peer-to-peer technology allows collaboration without the intervention, expense and management of central servers, announced a new set of enterprise servers. The Groove Enterprise Integration Server and the Groove Relay Server are currently in beta testing. The Groove Enterprise Management Server will enter beta testing in January, Groove officials said.

"Our enterprise-class servers give IT managers centralized control of application integration, a single point of integration for connecting Groove with back-end and Web-based systems, and centralized services for the deployment, monitoring and licensing of Groove software and tools," said Groove CEO Ray Ozzie in a press release.

But what happened to the perception that Groove was all about exploiting peer-to-peer technology?

"Its been a hybrid model all along. It defaults to peer to peer, but if youre behind a firewall, you have to tunnel through it via a relay server," explained Groove spokesman Richard Eckel. "Customers say [peer-to-peer] is nice, but they want to connect with existing business and Web systems."

And now one of those customers is Dell, both companies confirmed.

Dell is Grooves second customer to commit to more than 10,000 seats even though it has yet to pilot the system. GlaxoSmithKline, a pharmaceutical company, has purchased 10,000 licenses, Groove said.

"In general terms, were going to see if it cant improve help with customer service," said Dell spokesman Mike Maher. "By and large, we are looking for our people to collaborate better. We think and hope this is one way to help do that."

Maher declined to specify the value of the deal, but the Groove software isnt inexpensive. The client lists for $49 to $96 per seat, and the Enterprise Integration Server and Relay Server list for $9,995 and $4,995, respectively.

The deal means that just under a third of Dells 35,300 users worldwide will have the Groove software when it is fully deployed.

Finally, Groove announced a technology integration partnership with Intraspect Software Inc., of Brisbane, Calif., a supplier of business collaboration applications.