Groove Lines Up New Release, VAR Program

Groove Version 3.0 promises dramatically faster performance, a more robust forms tool for application development, and reworked, more intuitive interface, according to beta users and analysts. A beta of the software is expected next week.

What Version 3 brings to the table is faster application development. "We can build for an enterprise or smaller businesses without [heavy] IT infrastructures applications based on forms. They're easy to handle and manipulate for business managers," said Jean-Michel Davault, managing director of Hommes and Process, a French VAR partner.

Groove is noted for the secure, collaborative platform it provides workgroups for companies who also have to collaborate and communicate across sites and firewalls. "In our market, when we need to solve a problem for distributed teams, Groove is the only solution available," he noted.

Peter O'Kelly, analyst with The Burton Group also lauded the improved development capabilities for users of many experience levels. "You can build real, non-trivial forms-based applications without writing any code and if you need to go beyond that you can use scripting. If the level of complexity goes beyond forms, instead of going to the Groove API as you would in the past, you can make use of a huge set of Web services, as long as you have a tool that recognizes them," he noted.

Sponsored post

That Web services support could broaden Groove's reach beyond the Windows world it directly supports. The software itself does not run on Macintosh or Linux desktops.

Users can opt to use a standard Windows XP-like interface, greatly diminishing their learning curve. "Anyone who's used to instant messaging or Windows XP will get it immediately, the workspaces and hover over a workspace to see who's there, and not just who's online but where they are," O'Kelly said.

Users can also bring diverse documents and data under Groove's secure umbrella. "You can opt for the standard workspace or you can cerate a template-based workspace using forms-based stuff and asset tracking or you can put all your files in one subdirectory [of the Windows file system] and create a secure workspace atop that directory," O'Kelly said.

there is also a much richer set of alerts now for notifying users of when team mates are available and by what means. "you can even set up audio or voice alerts, tunes, " when key team members are online.

O'Kelly also noted that with this release, Groove has addressed a major hurdle: Performance. He said the beta software downloads, installs and runs fast in background.

With this release, the company is also ramping up its first-ever VAR program, already in pilot phase in Europe and coming into play in North America later this year, said Eric Sansonetti, vice president of channels and market alliances for the Beverly, Mass.-based company.

The company now has a handful of VAR partners in the United Kingdom, France, Benelux, South Africa and Japan. Groove's own small direct sales force has focused on enterprise and some SMB accounts in this country. The plan going forward is that any sale coming in either through a partner or through an inside sales, will be revenue neutral. Groove's internal sales people will make the same money whether the sales goes direct or not, Sansonetti said.

It is unclear how well Groove has penetrated the market in what has been a tough economy. The privately held company does not disclose financials. But it does boast a field of prominent backers including Intel Capital and Microsoft, which invested over $50 million in the company in 2001.

Groove also claims some very large customers including the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Siemens Medical Systems.

For a look back at early Groove, see story.