In the Groove -- and out of the rut

By Cheryl Currid, ITworld.com |  Networking

One day out of stealth mode, Groove Networks could change the way people
collaborate. Led by Ray Ozzie, the original developer of Lotus Notes, this product
promises to be just as revolutionary as Ozzie's first brainchild.

Even its beta, released today, is live, powerful, and complete. It offers an
interactive way for people to get work done instantly and efficiently. While its
technology base is new, it's so simple to use that the untrained, barely skilled
computer worker can wear it like a comfortable old shoe.

For corporate IT managers, Groove could be a lifesaver -- it lets IT turn over the
keys to business people who are trying to get work done. Using a distributed or peer-to-
peer architecture, the software doesn't depend on having a team of specialists to set
up servers to manage communications. Yet, through its sophisticated use of XML
technology, it has all the safety and security features that IT managers need to
breathe easy. Moreover, its use of component technology lets members of the Groove
environment assemble the tools within their applications simply, as plug-ins.

People can immediately connect with their colleagues and collaborate on different
types of work, such as planning events, sharing drafts and proposals, coordinating
programs, or sharing objects like photos, drawings, or music. Groups in the Groove can
exchange all types of media files, draw on shared whiteboards, annotate documents, and
chat at the same time.

Designed to collapse the distance between people, the application can be used by a
local group or one whose members are geographically dispersed and connected only by
wire. Team members can set up a shared space within the Groove environment and add
functions as needed. Each participant downloads the Groove shared space and can
interact with the data online or offline. Groove saves all of the member's content,
additions, annotations, and new functions, then sends them to other members when a
member computer goes online.

Trite as it sounds, Groove is groovy. It's easy to use but extensible. Users can
change everything from its skins to its applications while staying in touch.

It supports work activity, no matter how the members choose to work. It's realtime,
it stores and forwards, and it has the ability to keep communications up even when some
of its members are down. Sound confusing? It's not.

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