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Collaboration past, present and future

Collaboration involves more than sending instant messages or documents through firewalls, and with Microsoft's recent acquisition of Groove, it's more than an industry buzzword. While it remains to be seen how this marriage will affect Domino users, it assures administrators that collaboration will continue to be a hot topic.

Collaboration has been more than a buzzword in recent months. Now that Microsoft has acquired Groove Networks Inc., it has been busy touting its collaboration possibilities. IBM officials, meanwhile, remain confident that Lotus Notes/Domino provides better collaboration options and will continue to do so in version 7 and beyond.

The concept of collaboration involves more than sending instant messages or documents through firewalls, according to Ambuj Goyal, the general manager of Workplace, Portal and Collaboration Software in the IBM Software Group.

As collaboration evolves, Goyal said in a recent meeting with editors, it will become a key piece of business value, emphasizing organization and productivity. For Workplace, this means bringing access to "people, processes and information across the enterprise," Goyal said.

There are two keys to making collaboration work. On the users' side, the goal is a user interface for Notes, Sametime and Web conferencing simple enough that everyone in an enterprise can collaborate. For adminstrators, the key is the ability to monitor everything happening on the network so problems can be addressed right away or, ideally, prevented from ocurring at all.

In Notes/Domino 7, slated for a mid-September release, administrators are poised to gain more control over issues ranging from spam and viruses to security, utility and policies. Beyond version 7, IBM officials said in Hannover, Germany earlier this week, users will benefit from improved e-mail, calendar and contact management capabilities, as well as the option to store information around a specific project or activity, regardless of the type of file.

With Groove, Microsoft gets peer-to-peer technology to incorporate into Office, such as document sharing and a security model. IBM already has this, and that, officials say, is evidence that Big Blue is better suited to collaboration. As Microsoft tinkers with this technology, Groove clients may even jump to Domino, Goyal said.

It will take years for the full effect of the Microsoft-Groove marriage to emerge. In the meantime, has compiled a guide to collaboration that includes exclusive articles, expert advice, white papers and links to past guides related to the topic.

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