Software Links Users Virtually

Collaboration tools cut travel costs, aid teamwork.

Tandberg Asa, Pixion Inc. and a host of other developers are rolling out new and enhanced multimedia collaboration tools that officials from these companies said will improve the quality of virtual meetings while helping enterprises keep down travel costs and improve teamwork.

Tandberg this month plans to introduce ACE (Architecture for the Collaborative-Communications Enterprise), a new architecture for its namesake videoconferencing hardware and software. CEO Andrew Miller said the architecture, which integrates with existing network frameworks such as Cisco Systems Inc.s Avvid, will simplify the use, management and deployment of videoconferencing and other collaboration technologies.

In the future, the company will likely roll out Web-based plug-ins that can enable network administrators to manage collaboration applications via ACE, said Miller in New York.

Meanwhile, Pixion led a cavalcade of developers announcing new and upgraded products and services at the Collaborate East Conference and Expo here late last month.

Pixion said it was delivering its Web conferencing software as a hosted service called PictureTalk Hosted Services. Executives at the Pleasanton, Calif., company said the new service will operate without the bandwidth constraints of other Web conferencing services, thanks to its patented CSC (Client-Server-Client) architecture, which senses varying network transmission speeds and attendees platforms and viewing requirements. This enables the system to automatically allocate resources.

CSC enables integration with existing firewalls, full data encryption, bandwidth independence and multiple layers of password protection to guard sensitive data, Pixion officials said.

Separately, PlaceWare Inc. announced that its namesake Web conferencing service now supports BEA Systems Inc.s WebLogic Platform 7.0. This allows companies to organize and launch PlaceWare Web conferences through BEAs WebLogic Portal via portlets called My PlaceWare Meetings and Organizer Dashboard.

PlaceWare is also using WebLogic components in its RapidMeeting service, which allows users to schedule, enter and conduct meetings from Microsoft Corp. Outlook and Windows Messenger, said PlaceWare officials in Mountain View, Calif.

Also at the show, New York-based Sigma Design released Version 2.3 of its eZmeeting document sharing software. The version allows users to organize, save and share electronic information in one compound file format—the .ez file. Different file formats can then be combined in the presentation, regardless of whether the application that created them resides on the users system.

This version also enhances eZmeetings Snapshot tool, giving users one-button-click capture of information from Web sites, applications, video stills and other file types.

Washington-based consultancy Watson Wyatt & Co., which has offices on five continents, is increasingly using Web conferencing with customers. "Its almost a requirement to have a system in place when you have people scattered in different parts of the world in different time zones," said Jeff Held, chief technology officer at Watson Wyatt, which uses eRoom Technology Inc.s self-named product for file sharing with customers and Aimware Inc.s TeamCentral for more advanced internal collaboration. "You cant expect e-mail to do it all. Youll just generate a huge amount of traffic, and itll be impossible to follow threads or keep track of versions."