The great Office Server smorgasbord Part 2: MOSSing up Groove Server
Office Groove 2007 may seem like a client-only application, but for enterprises with many users, Groove Server is the way to goFollow @infoworld
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We'll start with the bottom line: Office Groove Server is simply a cure for complexity. Running a team collaboration tool on a peer-to-peer basis across a basic network is no big deal. But running one across an enterprise net, including multiple router and gateway hops and with comparatively huge user and team directories, file repositories, and application libraries is another matter entirely. Enter Groove Server, or rather, Groove Servers, because there are three of them in the suite. The big daddy of the trio is GM (Groove Manager), which is designed to manage your entire Groove deployment end to end. Many SMBs can run Groove on a client-only basis, but you're going to want Groove Manager working for you in any deployments above 100 seats. Administrators can use GM to manage Groove accounts, access paths, and enforce fair use and security policies. And instead of backing up Groove document repositories across thousands of individual users via something like shadow copy, GM keeps all client Groove file collections centrally so that you can back up your whole user base off a single box. On a more sophisticated note, GM also acts as a hub for large file transfers. Instead of simply clogging the network at large with whatever honking files your users feel like throwing around, Groove Server steps in and manages the process in an organized store-and-forward manner. On an even more granular level, administrators can even assign bandwidth ceilings for Groove file transfers. It's a good idea to experiment with this feature, however, because the impact on larger networks can be significant.
Although you can configure that store-and-forward transfer relationship from Groove Manager, it's Groove Server Relay that does all the heavy lifting. This package handles Groove talking across firewalls and also takes care of offline communications. It does this much the same as an SMTP e-mail server would. The client Groovers encrypt their data locally prior to transmission, and Relay stores that content, either because one or more users are offline or because two Groovers are talking across firewalls. What's nice is that Relay is highly configurable in this regard, enabling administrators to store Groove data for only seconds or as long as several days depending on their internal policies or that particular Groove team's needs. We felt it could have used a little more configuration muscle on the firewall side. Relay does a good job of enabling communications across firewalls, but it's mostly an on-off operation. In the future, we'd like to see more in the way of controlling specific security features (type of encryption, types of content allowed to pass, and usage auditing, to name three) between two external firewall gateways.