Groove Networks releases 1.0 Version of peer-to-peer software

Groove Networks Inc. has begun to back up the hype that surrounded its launch last October by releasing the first version of its peer-to-peer collaborative software application with four customers already committed to using it.

U.K.-based GlaxoSmithKline PLC has already bought licenses for 10,000 seats for its employees worldwide. Raytheon Corp., Abbott Laboratories in Abbott Park, Ill., and Syntek Technologies Inc. in Arlington, Va., have also signed agreements for limited deployment of the new collaborative tool.

Some analysts said users would be slow to adopt the peer-to-peer technology, because it takes some control away from central administrators, who are also leery of allowing data to be stored on PCs without a backup on a central server.

Dana Gardner, an analyst at Aberdeen Group Inc. in Boston, said he thought Groove would eventually be a widely used tool in corporations but, "I don't think we're at the adoption phase yet. It's just starting." He said fear of losing control would be a stumbling block for many administrators.

"Just about anything that you can do using a peer-to-peer to model, you could find a way to do using a client/server model," said Robert Mahowald, an analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass.

Beverly, Mass.-based Groove uses a peer-to-peer model to initiate and maintain workspaces where users exchange text sessions with instant messaging software, applications, voice and video in real-time through various panes within one frame. The data is stored on each user's hard drive. Off-line users download updated information from ongoing Groove sessions when they log on.

One manager of messaging systems for a U.S. bank with 65,000 users said he doubts his company would deploy Groove.

"Where's the back-up?" he said, "I see that it's kind of a toy that people will use individually."

Groove has, however, made some allowances for central storage of data and even central administration of the software.

Its Network Services for Groove 1.0, for example, allows enterprise IT managers to centrally control the deployment and behavioral characteristics of widely dispersed Groove software, according to today's announcement. Some of those centralized tools include deploying and managing client software and licenses, disseminating component and tool security policies, user identities consistent with a corporate directory and software upgrade policies and aggregating software usage, behavior and fault information.

Groove spokesman Richard Eckel said the software will eventually provide for storing data on central servers. As a partner in Microsoft Corp.'s .Net program, for example, Groove would access line-of-business software, and the changes users make while in a Groove session would then be stored on a central server.

In the meantime, some large corporations have found a use for the tool as a quick way to share information between often remote workers.

GlaxoSmithKline, a pharmaceutical company that employs more than 100,000, said in a statement that the Groove technology would be used among its teams of scientists annd its collaborators at other companies and universities to share information and coordinate activities.

Enterprise pricing for the Groove product is $49 per user; Groove Enterprise Network Services are $8 per user per month, with volume pricing available. Pricing for individual purchase of Groove software and services will be announced later this year. Groove Preview Edition, a subset of the full Groove product, is available for free for personal use or business trial from www.groove.net.

Copyright © 2001 IDG Communications, Inc.

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