Ozzie's peer-to-peer to hit corporate networks

Groove is in the heart with Notes creator's peer-to-peer product

A product expected to bring Napster-style file-sharing to the world of business has been announced by secretive Ray Ozzie, creator of Lotus Notes. A free preview edition is available from download at www.groove.net.

Since resigning from IBM three years ago, Ozzie had declined to give out information about his new project, but an official announcement was made Tuesday. "Groove" has been described by Ozzie's company Groove Networks as "a product that leverages peer-to-peer communications technologies to do things previously not possible using the Internet".

The product will cost from $50-$100 a desktop, and permits groups of two to 20 people to create shared areas on their screens that all member of a designated group can access, according to reports on the electronic version of the Wall Street Journal.

Groove will use elements of instant messaging and will be similar to the file-sharing concept epitomised by music-sharing site Napster.

Ozzie called the system a "platform for person-to-person collaboration with the spontaneity of email", according to reports. Crucially, the product will not rely on the use of large central computers. Shared space on individual hard drives could, in theory, minimise bandwidth burden on corporate networks, and ease the document encryption required to ensure security on networks.

The company also confirmed $41m (about £28m) in third round financing today, including investment from previous investor Accel Partners and new investment from Intel Capital. "We are piloting the base Groove product and multiple toolsets from Groove Networks, and are favourably impressed," said Leticia Vargas, an information technology project manager for Abbott Laboratories in a release.

"This model for small group interaction both within and beyond our firewall will assist in helping us achieve our overall goals of improving quality business communications and reducing time to market for health care products that we develop, manufacture and market for the treatment of some of the world's most prevalent medical conditions, including AIDS, cancer and diabetes," Vargas stated.

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