Collaboration Technologies

Collaboration supports most core business activities today. An effective collaborative environment, aided by proper collaboration tools, can lead to dramatic increases in business value through more effective business processes as well as decreased IT support requirements and costs.

Knowledge has become an essential asset in the modern world for individuals, teams, and entire organizations. Collaboration technologies and tools aid knowledge workers in the following ways:

  • By connecting people with the right information at the right time — just-in-time information is vital for accurate and timely decisions and it avoids unnecessary duplication and costly hoarding of information.

  • By connecting people with the right people (either other employees or external to the organization) — identifying and locating the proper knowledge sources in an organization (and even across organizations) can be a difficult and time-consuming task that collaboration tools can greatly reduce.

  • By connecting people at the right time — by showing presence and current online status, collaboration tools can minimize futile communication attempts, such as missed calls and invitations to offline recipients.

  • By connecting people with the right business processes — the fluid nature of businesses today, influenced by globalization and project-based teams, demands flexible communication and collaboration mechanisms.

Studies have shown there are significant benefits. Collaboration tools have begun to lower IT costs for the following reasons:

  • Remote access technologies allow faster roll out of new services and products, with no associated client installation costs, and give the administrator greater control over their use.

  • P2P technologies reduce reliance on dedicated servers and enable users to administer much of the process themselves.

Team collaboration is becoming the norm.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P)

P2P communication and collaboration is an emerging technology that enables two or more clients to discover, connect, and communicate with one another without the need for a server to manage the interactions. Solutions built on P2P technologies offer several key advantages when compared to client-server communication models:

  • Reduced reliance on servers lowers deployment costs and complexity of communication solutions.

  • Direct client-to-client communication provides faster data transmission and offers greater flexibility such as deployment on disconnected or ad-hoc networks.

  • Topological support for clustered systems, which enhance system resilience.

Key areas of adoption for P2P include inter-personal communication (including ad-hoc meetings), content distribution, gaming, computer resource sharing, and home and office productivity. P2P networks do not adequately support streaming for most multimedia requirements.

Windows Vista® has been designed to support P2P communications in a more robust and efficient manner. A comprehensive set of APIs are provided to develop P2P solutions that support the following functionality: contact management, naming and discovery; session initiation; and, multi-party communication. These greatly assist the developer in writing applications to track presence, send invites, discover local users, and manage contacts. For example, Windows Vista™ Messenger makes extensive use of these APIs to locate, establish, and manage communications with networked neighbors.

For more information, see the Windows Peer-to-Peer Networking (http://www.microsoft.com/technet/itsolutions/network/p2p/) site.

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