Peer-to-peer (P2P) technology company Groove Networks has announced the release of the first version of its enterprise collaboration platform and the initial sale of 10,000 licences to pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.
P2P refers to technology that allows PC users to share information and programs without going through a centralised server. The most widely known example is the music swapping service Napster.
Groove 1.0 is the brainchild of the company's chief executive Ray Ozzie, who in the 1980s invented Lotus Notes which IBM ultimately bought for $3.5bn.
Groove expands the concept of Lotus Notes - which allows people in the same office to post messages and respond to one another - to the world and adds several useful features.
It is being used by early enterprise adopters to bring people together spontaneously and securely across enterprise boundaries to work on time-critical projects.
The first version of Groove 1.0 will allow scientists and others at GlaxoSmithKline to set up small work groups where they not only share files and reports but also work together simultaneously with others inside and outside the company.
"It's all about helping people communicate and work together whenever they're separated in time and space," said Ozzie.
Groove is made up of communication and information tools which are built on a peer computing platform that developers can use to integrate the application with existing business systems such as customer relationship management, document management, product design or enterprise resource planning.
The services, which work only with Windows and are accessed with a web browser, include a centrally managed user directory and usage policies based on users, groups and domains.
Ford Calhoun, chief information officer at GlaxoSmithKline, said that teams frequently work with scientists from biotechnology companies and universities and need to share sensitive information. They often change team members as the project progresses.
"Groove appears to lend itself uniquely to our challenge of supporting these teams with technology that can assist their life-changing research," Calhoun said.
The system has also been selected as the communications infrastructure for the collaborative environment that will support a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency investigation studying human and software agent interaction using P2P technologies.
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