Groove Networks next week will release Version 3 of its flagship peer-to-peer collaboration suite, changing the name and increasing the price to allow for new functionality.
The product, formerly known as Groove Workspace, becomes Groove Virtual Office in this release. The new name reflects the companys increasing focus on connecting remote employees. A host of new functionality in the more advanced versions of the technology will also necessitate a 20 percent price increase.
Groove Virtual Office Professional Edition will be priced at $179 per user. The Project Edition, which includes advanced project management capabilities and is Grooves most popular version, will be priced at $229 per user.
Pricing for the entry version of the suite, now known as the File Sharing Edition (formerly Standard Edition), remains $69 per user.
Chief among new features across all editions of Version 3 is that 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, according to company officials.
Another key new feature is the Groove LaunchPad, a starting point for managing workspaces, contacts, and presence and awareness.
Professional and Project editions get advanced forms capabilities supporting forms scripting, layout, preferences and integration with back-end operational applications. These versions also support visual and audible alerts of user presence activities.
Groove is including search capabilities within its workspaces for the first time in this version. The product is also harkening back to its original version with support for launching Groove Virtual Office at Windows startup. This feature was discontinued after customers complained that Groove Version 1 was a resource hog that slowed performance. But better memory management and native Windows controls in this version have enabled the company to offer that feature again, if customers so choose.
The memory improvements are a key feature driving Reuters Group plcs adoption of Groove. The company licensed Version 2.5 of Groove Workspace, but wasnt able to widely deploy the software, said Mandeep Singh.
“We werent able to roll out 2.5 well because of memory issues. It was kind of bloated,” said Singh, principal of Reuters Strategy Integration Group, in New York. “Well be able to make a major push now with 3.0.”
Singh also praised Groove 3.0s improved interface, including being able to maintain the LaunchPad in the corner of the desktop screen at all times and the “more granular” setup offered by the new alerting capabilities. He said power users at Reuters were experimenting with creative ways to take advantage of the new forms capabilities, which should only increase use of the technology at Reuters. The company has licensed about 1,000 seats of Groove software.
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.
Reuters Singh said he expects Groove 3.0 to help his employees, most in document-heavy departments like marketing and legal, to better organize and share information.
“Microsofts doing some nice things with [its] SharePoint [collaboration software], but we prefer Groove,” he said. “It has a rich client, its easier to use and doesnt require you to constantly refresh the browser.”
Pricing for the Groove server starts at $9,995 for Integration Server; $14,995 for Relay Server; and $19,995 for Management Server.