Tonido Workspace: Alternative to Microsoft Groove

Tonido Workspace Main Screen

Tonido Workspace is a powerful application that is part of the Tonido Platform. It is a personal information manager and a P2P group collaboration application. Nearest competitor to Tonido Workspace is Microsoft’s Groove application. To those who don’t know, from Wikipedia,

“Microsoft Groove’s core concept is the shared workspace [3], which consists of a set of files to be shared, plus some aids for group collaboration. Groove users can create workspaces, add documents, and invite other Groove members to a workspace. A user that responds to an invitation is made an active member of that workspace. Each member has privately editable copy of the workspace. Users interact and collaborate in the common workspace which is a private virtual location. All changes are tracked by Groove, sent to all members and all copies of the workspace are synchronized via the network in a peer-to-peer manner.”

This exactly describes Tonido Workspace as well. Tonido Workspace allows you to setup a shared workspace that is shared among a set of group members. Each group member needs to have Tonido installed and the Tonido Workspace application enabled. A group member can invite another group member to be part of the workspace. Once they accept, they will get a privately editable copy of the workspace. Users interact and collaborate via the workspace. These changes are tracked by Tonido workspace, sent to all members of the group via the Tonido P2P network.

So in this post, we will describe some of the features of Tonido Workspace and how it compares with Microsoft Groove.

Before we do that, let us look at the base set of features that Microsoft Groove has and compare that with Tonido Workspace. Instead of using the usual set of hundreds of features most sales materials use, let’s look at a list of general features as listed on a slashdot posting.

1. It’s a rich client in a Web 2.0 world – which means you will see people running it on an airplane (also, incidentally, where you don’t see any Web apps running)

Tonido Workspace is a rich client in a Web 2.0 world. It works online or offline, whether you are at work, at a customer site or on a plane.

2. It runs a distributed directory, so people can collaborate across organizational boundaries without requiring IT to modify directory systems (a challenge that has been vexing the industry for at least 15 years now)

Tonido Workspace uses a fully distributed identity management of Tonido Network. People can fully collaborate across organizations. And if your enterprise requires it, you can run your own custom Tonido Domain Server (TDS), with fully custom IDs (mark@yourenterprise.com)

3. It navigates across firewalls to create a “live” peer-based connection between Groove users – features are presence, awareness, instant messaging, and a whole raft of collaborative tools like file sharing, calendars, discussion threads, and customizable forms.

Tonido Workspace runs on top of the Tonido P2P network. Tonido P2P network establishes fully direct p2p connection between Tonido Group users. Tonido Workspace shows whether a peer is online or offline, chat and a bunch of collaboration tools like a shared calendar, discussions, tasks, contacts and files.

4. Security is built-in from the ground up – every user is authenticated, which has proven to effectively limit spam, viruses and other malware, and all work is protected with FIPS-approved 192bit AES encryption on disk and over the network.

Tonido Workspace runs on top of the Tonido P2P network. Every user is authenticated, all network transmission is via 256 bit AES encryption. Encryption support for Workspace data on disk is coming soon.

5. Trust. Only the people designated to read information you choose to share will have the keys to unlock it. That means that an errant sys admin cannot view Groove workspaces or intercept data intended for another recipient.

Workspace data is transmitted directly between peers. It is never transmitted to third-parties, never relayed through the Tonido DS. The data transmitted across the wire can only be unencrypted by the other party; since the shared key for the session is setup using Diffie-Helman key exchange.

6. Synchronization. This actually should have been first, since at the core, Groove is a great big XML message switch. Here’s where you’ll find the patents. Groove has a very robust synchronization engine that ensures that all documents, files, messages, changes to a workspace, etc. are synchronized with all members, whether they are online or offline. This is a hugely complicated endeavor that the Groove team has been working on since the Lotus Notes days – and they KNOW how to do it right.

This is subjective, but Tonido Workspace also has a full-fledged robust data sync framework with can work with any type of data. The sync feature in Workspace allows all objects to get synchronized whether the group member was online or offline; allows you to resolve conflicts on objects, in case two members edited the same object before synchronization.

Advantages of Tonido Workspace

So far you can see that Workspace matches Groove in most of the main features and functions. Now we will see where Workspace is better.

1. Browser based

Tonido Workspace UI is via the browser. This offers a huge advantage over a normal rich UI. Say for example you have Workspace installed in one machine, you don’t need to install Workspace in 3 other machines just to access your workspace. You can simply access it from another machine. Even better, you can even access it from your mobile phone browser in a pinch.

2. Cross-platform

Tonido runs on all OS variants unlike Microsoft Groove. It hardly matters which OS you wish to use.

3. Hierarchical Organization of Data

In Groove, objects are all straight jacketed to a single type. In the discussion forum tool, you can only add comments or topics. In Tonido Workspace, however, any object can be children to any other type. In a discussion forum, you can add child comments, attach files, attach a note, even attach tasks to be completed. Groove requires you to work within their boundaries while Tonido Workspace is flexible enough not to impose those boundaries. Want to add a reminder for an object, just add a child calendar event and it will appear in your calendar.

4. Cost

It is unknown what Groove really costs an enterprise, but it is probably hundreds of dollars, and thousands more if you want to run the Groove server internally. Tonido Workspace will be a fraction of the cost for small business and enterprises.

Missing Features/Cons in Tonido Workspace compared to Groove

1. More variety of Tools

Groove offers a variety of tools that can be integrated into a workspace. Tonido Workspace offers less. But we believe less is more especially if the less is better integrated with each other and offers a better user experience.

2. Relay Capability

Groove has relay capability so that if peers cannot directly connect to each other, it relays information between them. Tonido, however does not relay information at all. All connections are peer-to-peer. However, there are two mitigating factors.

1. Tonido Workspace can synchronize group information through any set of connected peers. If there are 3 peers (A, B, C), and A connects to B and C, but B and C cannot directly connect to each other. Information added by B and C will still propagate to each other through A.

2. CodeLathe hosted Relays. CodeLathe will host relays that will be always online, and which can be added to your groups as regular members for a nominal monthly costs. Since these relays will be always be on and it will always have internet access, you can depend on syncing information to the group irrespective of whether or when anyone is online.

Screenshots of Key Features in Groove and Comparable Feature in Workspace

Online Status

groove_online_status

ws_online_status

Online Contact Options

groove_online_contact_options

ws_online_contact_options


Files

groove_files_workspace

ws_files_workspace1

Calendar

groove_calendar

ws_calendar2

Chat

groove_chat_window

ws_chat_window

Notes

groove_notes_window

ws_notes1

Forum

groove_forum_window

ws_forum_window1

Contacts (Only in Workspace)

ws_contacts

Learn more about Tonido Workspace and how you can use it to work seamlessly, securely, privately with distributed teams.

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