Groove: Microsoft buys Groove Networks - Microsoft, Groove Networks to Combine Forces to Create Anytime, Anywhere Collaboration , Groupware Competence Center 2005.

Microsoft's plans to acquire Groove Networks, a leading provider of collaboration software for ad-hoc workgroups," will allow the company to better meet the needs of large and small organizations for borderless project teams, as well as bring Groove founder Ray Ozzie and other top executives to Mic...

THEMES: Groove
YEAR: 2005

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Statement LN

    A comment by Ludwig Nastansky
    Headline News 10-March-2005: Microsoft acquires Groove Networks
    I am happy that with this acquisition the obvious has happened so soon. For good, IBM Lotus Notes/Domino is finally facing serious and profound competition on the Groupware & Collaboration markets. This will help to (re-) focus after more than a decade of Notes/Domino cannibalization on the real and essential issues of IT-support for collaboration, including technology. My guess is that Groove's integration in the MS Windows desktop will accelerate the collaboration market, and start a fruitful competition in this important IT-segment. The Groove Networks step will be a gain to profile Lotus Notes/Domino's value for decentralized collaboration - including the decentralized N/D client-server model being positioned not so much on the edges of an organization, not so much ad-hoc, and much more (form-based) structured and thus enterprise-integration enabled like Groove is with all these MS-Office document files.
    Hopefully, this new competition will contribute to free Lotus Notes/Domino out of the deadlock it was forced into for years. A deadlock demonizing almost every possible peaceful collaborative Notes/Domino application in some part of the big organization. The deadlock has been created by corporate IT's strangling centralized grip on N/D as corporate mail backbone. The deadlock was nurtured by IBM's traditional highly centralized model of corporate IT. The deadlock was fastened by IBM's inclination that IT systems need to be complicated to be good, driven by the push of engineers and experts rather than the pull of users and teams in their departments designing, deploying, and maintaining essential components of their favorite applications for themselves. Don't forget another aspect: Groove will be a very "fair" partner in the hopefully upcoming competition what is best for collaboration. The reason is that Groove definitely will not engage in that ridiculous battlefield of browser-only and rich-client-or-not approaches for users in a collaborative environment. Groove is fat client pure, for the driving software as well as for the data to be shared in a team. And, remember another point as well: Groove embedded in MS-Windows is an excellent piece of technology - and proprietary pure. The stigma of not being open source will not hurt that much, if hurt at all. The issue of using Groove, being just a deliberately applicable and enactable piece of collaborative software for an individual or within a user team, is not likely to be religiously escalated on a strategic level. On the other hand, N/D followers have their long experience of nightmares of all too conveniently being outlawed as proprietary.
    Everybody has to admit that IBM's current "Workplace" model as core architecture for collaboration is just on the opposite side of Microsoft's approach with Groove. The first "hello partner, you want to share your view on our proposal outlined in this document?" to a team buddy from an IBM-Workplace enabled laptop computer needs ... what? Yes, J2EE, Websphere variety, plus zillions of more feeding and supporting centralized software components. IBM-Workplace thus relies on a huge, costly, and technically very complicated back-end environment. And, don't forget the corporate IT-bosses and gods on the central side. They have in principle their say on every portal or page delivered this way from the corporate center. This back-end infrastructure is exactly on the other side of the cheap network place Groove is content with, i.e. only the wires and protocols driving the internet or the corporate LANs.
    So, no options for Lotus Notes/Domino? No, on the contrary! What about bringing teenager Lotus Notes/Domino in the upcoming collaboration battle in a new dress? Freed from all the burdens mentioned above. Maybe Lotus software creates another product variety of the established Notes/Domino product line, like, say: "Notes Networks" (I am afraid I am not so good in inventing brand names. But IBM won't bother on that issue in these days, right?). "Notes Networks" would include more or less everything Notes/Domino has right now. But, you would suggest to approach it in a decentralized way, from the edges of the organization like Groove marketing prefers to point out. That is install it on laptops. Install the coordination machine (i.e. the server) on an office machine (that's what Groove does for their bots) if no other Domino server should be around. A new piece of "Notes Networks" software would peacefully integrate this installation with corporate mail and try to consolidate N&A if desired or necessary. Administration would be reduced to just typing in the people you need in your team. Central IT would be convinced by appropriate flyers that this "Notes Networks" installation for supporting your R&D-project in the upcoming months doesn't interfere with their important corporate applications. N/D Business Partners would have the option of hiding "Notes Networks" as a middleware layer in their own products - so they are not banned from further talks with prospective customers as soon as they mention their otherwise excellent product is based on N/D. You don't intend to sell this "Notes Networks" product line to prospective customers of IBM Workplace, of course. Or, maybe you have a second thought on this issue? Microsoft has made up their mind. It would be bizarre to assume that their is no market for this "old" groupware idea N/D was originally made for. Unfortunately, N/D's mailing was just too good to allow N/D to survive just as plain "groupware". So, Groove has the chance to take over this decentralized type of collaboration scenario, easy and productive, departmental, team-based, user pull, document based. Apropos document based: I am not aware of a more powerful and mature e-editor than the native editor "Notes-networks" would have. This is not a paper editor Groove is confined to with MS Word. The documents created with "Notes-Networks" native editor are even open for integration with corporate data (vision for "Notes-Networks" Rel-7: could you please include this NSFDB2 DAV-table in your departmental application that we can tap your data easily for our transaction systems. YesSir - 15 minutes later). By the way, Microsoft is trying hard on this issue as well, with their "Office Information Bridge". So, Lotus hurry up with "Notes Networks", "Domino light", "Notes/Domino for Departments", or whatever the easy to use and easy to install N/D offspring might be called.
    - Ludwig Nastansky

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