What is Groove Folder Synchronization? Sharepoint?

Can you explain Groove Folder Synchronization? What is it exactly (in words a lay-person can understand. Ok, scratch that. In words a five-year-old can understand.)? What’s the purpose? How does it work?

I went to the Microsoft site to view their Groove demo and the product review page and neither page works! (Not a ringing endorsement.)

Same questions re: Sharepoint. What is it? What’s it’s purpose? How does it work?

It’s for corporate environments, but they package it with Office.

Sharepoint is a shared workspace, similar to a shared network drive. People can put files there for everyone in a group to access. It also has a calendar, a wiki, and other features. The idea is that a division of a company (or the entire company) has a secure place to share data.

Groove is something like Google Apps – you put your files on the Internet and others can access it – including those outside the company (unlike Sharepoint). Synchronization is used so that everyone in the group keeps up to date on any changes to the document.

Neither is particularly successful. We gave up on Groove ages ago, and, though we use Sharepoint, it’s only used infrequently.

Since RealityChuck has kindly covered the facts of the matter, I will toss in some commentary.

What is it? Overpriced.

What’s it’s purpose? To prevent people from sharing information effectively, as they might with cheap, sensible forum or repository software.

How does it work? Poorly, at best.

Sorry, but they forced Sharepoint on us at my workplace, and it’s a mess. The forum part of it is more awkward to use and less functional than most free forum software. Its search function is lousy. Its object storage is a maze of walled, hidden enclaves. It’s hard to administer. The only reason we can figure for dumping it on us is that it lets management drones collect a lot of useless statistics about how we use it.

Ah. A perfect balance of exactly what I need to know!

Help with terms? What is forum software? Does repository software mean a application that lets you store/save documents that everyone can access?

To give a little more background, I am wanting to accomplish two things: 1) set up a document room for my company and 2) set up a way to easily keep track of the different versions/revisions of our annual budgets. Every year at budget time, it’s a mess of emailing Excel files back and forth and it gets screwed up everytime.

Forum software is the stuff that runs message boards. The software that runs the SDMB is vBulletin; there are others, including free options like Simple Machines. Virtually all of them are more user-friendly than the forums offered by Sharepoint, at least in our deployment–we don’t even get a Preview button.

By repository software, I’m referring to storage software, yes. Good repository software should have version control and be readily searchable. I’m not sure what to recommend, as the company I work for seems to consistently buy or make the worst possible solutions for this. Even by those standards, though, putting stuff in our Sharepoint system is sort of like pitching all of your books into a deep, dark hole in the basement, and calling it a library.

That’s pretty much what Sharepoint is designed for.

The problem with Sharepoint is organization. How do you structure it? Where are files located? This is something you need to decide – and plan out carefully – in order to use it. Someone needs to administer things and make sure others keep to the plan (e.g., put all files in the same location).

When working, it will let multiple people work on a file, and will prevent two people making changes at one time.

That said, there are probably better ways to do it. If you can handle the security issues, Google Apps will let multiple users work on the same file. But a lot of companies are nervous about not having control of the data.

You’re funny. I like this post.

Roger that. If I have to make sure that others keep to the plan, well, they’ve already kinda demonstrated that’s sometimes hard to do. So Sharepoint is right out, then.

(Total aside - why, when reading the Microsoft website about what something IS they only give you a sales pitch? Wait, never mind… )

SharePoint is probably the most demanding IT solution to implement in an organization, since it involves the whole organization in a way no other server product does. You need to involve the management, the IT department, the developers (SharePoint is a platform for custom solutions), but also the “users”, who need education. It changes the way people work, and that is the greatest challenge. If you do not have all these wheels under the project, it simply will not pay off, and you get the “basement library” mentioned above. Most SharePoint implementations I have had first and second hand experience of, is more or less unsuccessful, at least until a year back or so.

On the other hand, if decision makers are in on the project, if there are distinctive goals and visions from the management, if the presumed competent project manager gets the time and means he/she needs – including budget for user education – SharePoint can really pay off. You get a collaboration platform with information, communication, shared libraries and workspaces, wikis for the developers and IT support technicians, with cusom, business intelligence dash boards, reports for SQL and diagrams from Excel and what not; there’s no end to it. It’s integrated with Active Directory, SQL, Exchange, Microsoft’s instant messaging solutions and what not, and there’s a whole world out there for custom solutions developers can write to meet business demands, or just great features users enjoy.

SharePoint can be a great solution, but it’s not like implementing a new file server or new Office update or an messaging system IT throws in, or a new policy or repository for data. It ties everything together, but it is not easily done. If done rightly, it’s geat. If not, it sucks.

Wakinyan, I’m not sure exactly what the differences are between “done right” and, well, the way it was done here. Since you seem familiar with it, may I ask a question?

A couple of the big peeves here are with the forums–to format a post, we have to mostly hand-code it HTML, and there is no preview button. We just have to post it, look at the post in the thread, then edit it to fix any coding errors. Do you know if that’s somehow broken in the configuration?

(Sorry if this is too much of a hijack, niblet.)

Google Docs Spreadsheet can do this now (whether you use a personal account or an Google Apps for Business setup). Everyone can just sign in and edit live on the web instead of emailing back and forth. If you can get past the security issues RealityChuck mentioned, this might work.

Office 2010 and its web counterparts, due in June, will also have collaboration features.

No problemo. I’m learning, so it’s all good.