Groove workspace makes room for oversight

Peer-to-peer file sharing meets centralized policy controls in a beta release of Groove 3.0 collaboration software from Groove Networks Inc.

Registered users of earlier versions can download the beta Groove 3.0 March 15 from www.groove.net. Because of demands from its military and homeland defense customers, the Beverly, Mass., developer has added data auditing and support for third-party public-key infrastructure products.

Older versions of Groove generated proprietary public-private key pairs to authenticate users of shared workspaces, strategic marketing director Andrew Mahon said. But government agencies wanted to be able to use their own PKI certificates and smart cards. Also, he said, they wanted the ability to limit cross-boundary use of the earlier workspace software, which is a component of the Homeland Security Department's Joint Regional Information Exchange System and compatible with the Defense Collaboration Tool Suite Version 2.

Groove Enterprise Management Server 3.0, which will not be commercially available until later this spring, can capture event logs about all activity in shared workspaces. The logs are automatically encrypted and stored in a Structured Query Language database for analysis with a third-party tool.

With Groove, self-organizing groups of users invite trusted colleagues to share files and calendars, design electronic forms, track projects, hold encrypted voice over IP conferences, send instant messages and chat.

The collaboration can occur through firewalls. Whenever a user's system goes online, that user's workspace synchronizes itself with the others. All the workspace material resides on each user's system in a tabular Extensible Markup Language database that can make Web services calls to back-end systems, such as terrorist watch lists or photo databases.

'The roles and permissions in a workspace are user-controlled,' Mahon said. If someone is 'uninvited,' or tossed out of the group by another member, 'the uninvited person's workspace stops synchronizing and automatically deletes itself' the next time it is online.

Groove 3.0, which runs under Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP, will cost $69 to $199 per copy until July 1. The enterprise management software will cost $19,995.




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