ServerWatch has a nice round-up of the state of Groupware and Collaboration. “Groupware and collaboration is an extremely elastic category. The terms, in essence, refer to anything electronic that helps people work together efficiently. The space can include e-mail, calendaring, instant messaging, audio and video conferencing, document repositories of different types, content management, bulletin boards, and voice services.”

Microsoft and IBM control 60% of the market. Microsoft will be launching Titanium later this year, while IBM has its Notes/Doomino platform.

A summary of the trends as mentioned in the article:

Early adopters in the small and midsize business space are starting to move away from Exchange server to products such as VirtualTek’s Joydesk and Bynari.

Software vendors generally associated with e-mail servers are entering the space more fully. Generally, the idea is that there will be a market for products “thinner” than Exchange and Domino that focus on the two key applications: e-mail and calendaring.

Since e-mail is the single dominant application, anything that impacts e-mail has a profound effect on groupware and collaboration. The ongoing struggle against viruses and the explosion of spam will have a big impact on how servers will be configured and protected. For example, servers must be able to accommodate rapidly changing third-party antispam software.

The usage patterns of groupware and collaboration are changing in three important ways. 1) Users will be more mobile, 2) real-time audio and video will become more prevalent, and 3) instant messaging will continue to grow as a corporate tool. Corporate IM may, in fact, prove the big story in 2003 because its deployment demands significant infrastructure adjustments. “IM … at a consumer, teenage level is kind of ephemeral,” said David Marshak, a senior vice president at the Patricia Seybold Group. “But doing it in a business context means it has to be stored. You have to prove you made the offer, gave this advice to this client, etc. It has a big impact on storage, and on search and retrieval capabilities.”

There is an increasing demarcation between users served by an enterprise that need full-featured collaborative applications and those that need only e-mail and calendaring. This is best illustrated by the example of a college campus that has a mix of permanent staff and faculty — some of whom are heavily involved in research that cries out for collaboration — and students who are typically there for four years. The students may be more aptly served by lightweight servers supporting Web-mail-based e-mail, while the permanent employees would ideally have an entirely different and deeper system. This type of bifurcated environment is not uncommon.

Messaging is a space we are in, too – with our MailServ solution. It does not yet have groupware and collaboration features, but its something we are working on.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.