In the Groove -- and out of the rut

By Cheryl Currid, ITworld.com |  Networking

The end user first installs a Groove transceiver -- a suite of applications that
lets the user share a notepad, sketchpad, browser, and files. It also enables shared
annotations on text or graphics. The applications, which are Groove-aware files, can
even come from other standard Windows applications. The Groove session creates a file
that is encrypted, transmitted and stored on the local disks of everyone in the group.
This redundancy provides automatic backup and recovery, should a group member lose or
destroy some of the files.

Groove uses a realtime peer-to-peer platform and high security levels, and can
support many-to-many communication among small groups. There's no need to set up
servers or sophisticated communications tools. Website managers or hosting services
need not get involved.

Seeing it work is almost like magic. Users can download the software from the
Website and install it in a few minutes. Groove uses a "presence server" that keeps a
list of groups online. Any user can instantly establish a communication session by
inviting another user to join the group. Invitations can be sent via an instant Groove
message or standard email. From that point on, everything in the Groove session --
communications, file sharing, sketch pads, voice chat -- is saved to the session
file.

If a group member tries to communicate with an offline user, the communications are
routed to a relay server that holds the information, then passes it on when
the offline user connects.

The technical intricacies of this software are fascinating, but your users will
probably never know it. They'll just install it and go to work.

You can download the preview edition
today. Groove Networks warns that it's an early edition and still in development. Don't
let that scare you away -- even in its infancy, this robust beta has more complete
features than many released applications.

So, how would your company's customers use Groove? That's the big question. I think
its applications will be limited only by imagination. Check it out for yourself -- if
your people collaborate, get them in the Groove.

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