Glaxo’s Cure

With Lotus Notes creator Ray Ozzie as its founder, Groove Networks wins instant enterprise credibility. With Microsoft investing $51 million for a minority stake, its financial credibility is newly enhanced as well.

But GlaxoSmithKline, which licensed Groove’s peer-to-peer collaboration system in April, says the product doesn’t yet meet its standards.

In September, GSK’s collaborative computing team reviewed eight pilot projects, recommending more pilots but no official support until Groove provides such basics as data backup and a way to recover accidentally lost documents.

Still, the pilot-project teams unanimously endorsed Groove as a method of quickly pulling together widely scattered individuals into effective teams.

“We more or less begged them to let us keep using it,” says Greg Pahel, manager of a gene-discovery project. Before Groove, the four-year collaboration between GSK researchers on the East Coast and Rush Medical College in Chicago lacked a good way to share data and commentary.

Groove’s biggest virtue: Any user can create a collaborative workspace on any PC. Doing the same with Notes, which GSK also uses, requires assistance from an administrator. Further, GSK had no good way of providing access from outside its organization to information kept on Notes.

The distributed Groove system means, though, that data is scattered rather than concentrated on a professionally administered server. Although Groove replicates data across participants’ PCs, deletions also automatically replicate. Because 80% to 90% of the data-recovery requests that system administrators get are for accidentally deleted documents, GSK decided it cannot roll out Groove for production until there is a way to back up data regularly to a central archive, says Bill Wood, GSK’s head of collaborative computing research.

In the Groove

GlaxoSmithKline’s pilot tests found:

  • Groove does let users create their own workspaces for collaborating with individuals inside and outside their organizations

  • The system does not require an administrator to configure security and user accounts, unlike Lotus Notes

  • Groove did need to provide a method for administrators to recover accidentally deleted documents

  • Groove also needed to work more smoothly with the user ID and password schemes used in various other Glaxo systems

    Source: GlaxoSmithKline