Groove Bundles Project Apps With Its Peer-to-Peer Workspace - InformationWeek

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Groove Bundles Project Apps With Its Peer-to-Peer Workspace

The vendor aims to extend its reach in desktop collaboration with a new version of its flagship software.

Aiming to extend its reach in the desktop collaboration arena, Groove Networks Inc. on Tuesday unveiled Workspace Project Edition, a new version of its flagship software that fuses project management and collaboration tools.

Groove Workspace Project Edition, essentially a collection of three applications, one from Groove and a pair it's reselling, targets work teams that not only need to manage projects, but which also want integrated tools that let members communicate with one another, recognize when they're available, and schedule on-the-fly E-meetings to solve problems, said Groove.

The bundle is composed of Groove Workspace Professional Edition 2.5, which originally released in February; and two products from startup project management maker TeamDirection: Project and Dashboard.

The tools "allow us to share information more easily with our clients, keeping everyone involved and aware of timelines and deliverables regardless of their physical location," said Hamish Davidson, the IT director for the Zyman Marketing Group, which uses the Groove Workspace and the TeamDirection's applications.

TeamDirection, a Groove partner, provides the project-management features of the bundle. Its Project application allows distributed teams to create and plan projects, assign resources, monitor project progress, and share documents in a Groove workspace. Other features of Project include the ability to import and export Microsoft Project files, and synchronize multiple projects--each in a separate Groove collaborative space--to fuel megaprojects from the project components that make them up.

TeamDirection's Dashboard is a console that lets team members view the status of all projects that they belong to, note outstanding issues or tasks, and move directly to discussions held within the Groove workspace.

Groove Workspace Professional provides the peer-to-peer infrastructure, including security, that powers the collaborative aspects of the bundle, including team discussions, integration with Outlook--project team members can share calendars and invite others to ad-hoc meetings from within the Microsoft E-mail client, and instant messaging.

"On the functionality level, these products were already integrated," said Dave Fowler, VP of marketing at Groove Networks. "but now it's easier to administer," he said, adding that IT's workload in supporting a collaborative team deployment will decrease. "From an administration point of view, it's a lot better. There's only one activation mechanism [for the products], and users can go to just one place for support."

As part of the rollout of the bundle, Groove now will support the two products from TeamDirections.

Groove's Workspace Project Edition has some stiff competition, primarily from Microsoft, which in early June, unveiled details of its upcoming Project 2003.

Project now goes by the name Office Project 2003 to denote its close ties to the other applications in the Office 2003 family, all of which are to ship in the third quarter. Available in both standalone and enterprise editions, Project aims to carve out some of the same collaborative territory as Groove by connecting members of a project's team via SharePoint Services, Microsoft's Web-based collaboration tool, and through servers running the components of Microsoft's Enterprise Project Management line.

"But in a mobile or distributed environment," said Fowler, "a centralized solution [such as Microsoft's server-based Project] requires that you provide outside team members access to your server, usually through a VPN. Workspace Project Edition eliminates this," he said. "Team members can contribute to your project directly from the client through the firewall using Groove's peer-to-peer approach."

Workspace Project Edition is priced at $199; a 10-pack that includes online training--called the Groove Starter Kit for Projects--runs $2,195. The individual applications in the bundle will continue to be available separately from Groove and TeamDirection.

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