The serendipity fairy has been at it again. On Tuesday Eileen posted something about Groove to her blog, and Jon Honeyball - a guy I have a lot of time for - posted something which said he really didn't understand Groove. If I read the time of the posting properly at that moment I was interviewing a possible new team member and asking about Groove.
Before I talking about Groove, every now and then I see the "Honeyball" feature of Windows Vista. Jon is no fan of Vista security, and during the Beta he took me to task over the message User Account Control put up, it displays the program name and the name on the publisher's certificate at the time this was "Microsoft Windows Publisher", Jon pointed out that most users would say "but I'm not running Publisher" and think something was amiss. I bugged this and for the release of Vista it says "Microsoft Windows" instead - though I can't say for sure the two are connected.
So Eileen was saying we now have a UK and Ireland trial available for Groove - I Kleefed the Groove team Techready4 last week because this was only available if you had a US address and I was promised that a fix was already in the works, and it's come through..
When someone like Jon doesn't get Groove it tells me that we have to do more to explain it. I tried before though Eileen is right: you have to experience it, so here's a real life example.
Next week our roadshow kicks off. We have various links to Internet content, documents, presentations and video clips associated with it. There are tasks where we need to track every revision of every document, but this isn't one of them. When the roadshow is over we'll put the documents in a sharepoint archive
Working on the roadshow, we have myself (working at home), Eileen (currently skiing), Steve (currently surfing in Hawaii), Putting stuff on a file share or sharepoint server is going to force us to VPN into the network, but also on the team we have Sue and Rob who don't even work for the company. Sometimes getting the job done we have to share information with people outside our "sphere of trust". So we e-mail everything to everyone, and this works but it sucks, on several grounds. First there can be no central list of the people on the team. Rob and Sue don't have Microsoft accounts, so they can't be on an Exchange distribution list unless we get Microsoft IT put them into active directory (which takes time and costs money), then at the end of the project I have to get them removed - if they're not working with another team. Rather than do that we'll probably just send mails to the same list of people who were on the last mail. Part of the way through the process Georgina joined the team. How much communication will the new team member miss before the rest of us catch up and start including her ? Who is going to find the current version of everything and forward it to her ? Are we going to be sure she has everything ?
Sue needed to share some Videos which are bigger than maximum message size Microsoft IT allows. Even when it's allowed, sending everyone every revision of every document is also very space and bandwidth inefficient.
So how does it work with Groove. I set up a workspace - either based on a normal Windows folder (which I can take snapshots of), or with everything in Groove's own database. I invite people to the workspace. If they don't have a copy of Groove and aren't covered by our licenses - like Rob and Sue - they can install the trial version, and what happens if my project is longer than the trial period ? Nothing. An expired trial can do everything EXCEPT create new workspaces.
Groove has its own Instant messaging, mail , discussions and so on but we rarely use them. For the most part we drop files into workspace Groove syncs the changes to everyone.
"Team" members outside the company ? Or more specifically outside the circle of trust ? No worries, you can invite anyone.
Off the corporate network ? No problem, Groove syncs peer to peer or using a relay server on the internet
Off line ? No problem, Groove means you have everything which was there last time you were connected, and syncs your changes on connection.
Large files ? No problem. This afternoon groove sync'd a 250MB file which Sue dropped in.
Bandwidth ? Groove only syncs changes.
You might need to click to see the larger view, to see it, but Sue put a 250MB file into our workspace. Groove didn't seem to care. Might explain why my broadband was sluggish earlier. If Steve and Eileen have connected to the internet in their hotels they'll have it before the come home.