RealTime IT News

Servers, Software All in the Groove

Peer-to-peer network purveyor Groove Networks said its family of enterprise servers -- designed to help businesses integrate information from existing Web-based systems into the Groove decentralized collaboration environment -- are in beta testing.

The Beverley, Mass., firm, which recently closed a $51 million investment round from Microsoft, also announced an upgrade to its P2P software.

In regard to its servers, the company said its Groove Enterprise Integration Server and the Groove Relay Server are in testing, while the Groove Enterprise Management Server is due to enter beta in January.

Groove's Enterprise Integration Server (EIS) is configured as an extension of the Groove software platform that hosts server-based programs known as "bots," which allow centralized systems, such as e-commerce systems, to interact with users inside of Groove shared spaces. This centralized kind of decentralization safely extends enterprise function to authorized users across enterprise boundaries.

The EIS offers a single point of administration for defining what enterprise information is available to Groove shared spaces via bots and which Groove users can access data; a SOAP-based gateway that allows third-party software to integrate with information contained within Groove shared spaces; and an auditing log of all bot interaction.

Groove's Relay Server is a hosted version of the firm's proprietary relay service, which enables IT managers to take care of the quality of service. Essentially a store-and-forward "message queue," the Relay Server affords users such as benefits as asynchronous communication to work on- and off-line; firewall transparency to traverse company firewalls, while maintaining a secure work environment and presence services that publish device presence, or awareness so users can make their online presence known to other users of Groove, regardless of where they log onto a network.

Lastly, and latest to the beta party is the pending Groove Enterprise Management Server, which as the most involved server product, provides IT managers with centralized services for administering the deployment and use of Groove software within an enterprise.

All three servers will be commercially available in the first quarter of 2002. The Groove Enterprise Integration Server will be priced at $9,995 per unit, with the Groove Relay Server priced at $4,995 per unit. Retail cost for the Groove Management Server will be announced in the first quarter of 2002.

In other groove news, the company released an enhanced version of its Groove software, and an initial sale of 10,000 software licenses to Dell Computer Corp. Groove 1.3 business collaboration software now features advanced integration with Microsoft Word and Windows Messenger, Windows XP compatibility, as well as enhancements in usability and performance.

Perhaps most interesting of these enhancements is the Groove/Windows Messenger collaboration, as those interested in .NET have been waiting to see what P2P fruits the companies might bear from working together.

The company said the first phase of Groove software integration with Microsoft Windows Messenger facilitates two-way communication between the programs. For example, a Messenger user can send an "Invite to Groove" notification directly from Messenger to a member of his or her contact list, automatically creating a new Groove shared space or pulling the two participants into an existing shared space. On the flipside, a Groove user can send an invitation from a Groove shared space to a member of his Messenger contact list.

Ray Ozzie, Lotus Notes creator and founder and CEO of Groove Networks, said the enhancements contained in 1.3 reflect the feedback his firm has received from enterprise customers, and "are an early indication of how our investment in Microsoft technologies and .NET will result in many benefits for our mutual customers."

Groove 1.3 will be available for purchase by enterprise customers within 30 days at an enterprise price tag of $49 per user.