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O'Reilly Network: How Ray Ozzie Got His Groove Back Creating Peer-to-Peer Collaboration Software

Oct 24, 2000, 15:48 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jon Udell)

"Ray Ozzie, creator of Lotus Notes, founded Groove Networks in 1997 to take groupware in a new direction. His new product, Groove, enables groups of collaborators to form in a decentralized, ad-hoc, administrator-less fashion, within or across corporate or other firewall/NAT-governed realms. Groove is a peer-empowering form of groupware -- what the company likes to call "peerware." In Groove, group members interact in highly-secure shared spaces. These spaces collect all the documents, messages, and applications ("tools") related to a group activity. Everything replicates to each member's computer -- possibly, to several devices per member -- and is available for online or offline use. Exchange of data is very granular, so that Groove-aware applications can support activities like shared editing in real time. Jon Udell, author of Practical Internet Groupware, has been using Groove for several months, and says "it's what I've been waiting for."

"Jon Udell: Like many of the products in the peer-to-peer space, Groove is really a hybrid of centralized and decentralized strategies. What does Groove centralize, and why? Conversely, what does Groove decentralize, and why?

Ray Ozzie: Groove can operate in a purely decentralized manner, but generally that mode of use will only be typical in home network or small office network environments where there's a single LAN segment and peers can be discovered through an efficient broadcast mechanism. More typically, Groove makes use of a variety of centralized services in a pragmatic fashion in order to make the communications experience feel more transparent to the user..."

"Jon: You've said that unlike NetWare or Notes or NT, Groove does not require an enterprise to deploy new directory or naming infrastructure, but that it can ride on existing infrastructure. How does that work?

Ray: When a user downloads and begins to use Groove, s/he enters one or more names by which s/he is commonly known. In my son's case, it might be his real name to his parents or a player name to his Quake friends, and yet another screen name to his EQ friends. Because most of us have multiple personas, Groove enables you to present yourself differently to different groups of people with whom you're working or communicating. ..."

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