LA VEGAS -- Four years after buying Ray Ozzie's Groove, Microsoft is making its most significant dive into the technology using the client software to create an offline data store and workplace for SharePoint users.
The company made the announcement during Monday's opening of its annual SharePoint conference, which has attracted 7,000 attendees.
SharePoint Server 2010, which will go into its first public beta next month, will include the SharePoint Workplace Client, which is Groove software redesigned as a native SharePoint client. It lets users view and edit both online and offline data from SharePoint and third-party line-of-business applications and synchronize those changes with SharePoint and third-party systems.
For example, data in an SAP system will look like native SharePoint data, and using the Groove-based SharePoint Workplace Client, that data can be taken offline and edited and then synchronized with the third-party system. The synchronization is supported by workflow features including check-in and check-out capabilities.
In addition, Microsoft has added to the optional browser-based SharePoint client the ability to read and edit external data. In the 2007 version, users could only read external data via the browser client.
The 2007 version of SharePoint included a Groove branded client, but it provided a read-only option for external data along with very basic SharePoint integration.
The access to third-party data is via a SharePoint feature called the Business Data Catalog, which lets users connect to line-of-business applications.
"The Workplace Client is a key part of building these kinds of applications where SharePoint ties together different information in your organization," said Jeff Teper, corporate vice president of the Office SharePoint Server group at Microsoft. "It brings the data seamlessly into SharePoint and SharePoint Workspace."
The client is available as part of the Office Pro Plus suite.
"We have put ton of work in this release that we think will make developers lives easier to bring line-of-business data together with SharePoint data, take it offline and then update it," Teper said. "It is a real pain point for IT organizations to build these business front ends and tie them into collaboration activity."
Groove was founded in 1997 by Lotus Notes creator Ozzie, who is now the chief software architect at Microsoft.When Microsoft purchased Groove in March 2005, Groove's Virtual Office, peer-to-peer client-side technology supported file sharing and the ability to work with data offline and, most notably, securely collaborate over corporate firewalls.
It also had a host of corporate-class features and servers to turn the Groove Virtual Office environment into a secure, managed universal front-end-to-back-end data repository and a bridge that tied together disparate client technologies used for collaboration. In addition, it added auditing/logging controls, Web services APIs, and integration with Microsoft's Visual Studio development platform for creating custom tools and agents for use within Virtual Office.
The forthcoming SharePoint Server 2010 also features tighter integration with Visual Studio.
The Groove 2007 in SharePoint 2007 included tools for discussion, files, meetings, calendar, forms, issue tracking, Notepad, pictures and sketchpad.
Office Groove Server 2007 is a bundle with SharePoint 2007 that includes the former Groove Enterprise Management, Relay and Data Bridge servers that made up the back-end infrastructure of Groove.
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