Viva La P2P!

Five years ago, I had major techie entrepreneur envy. Napster was getting big and Shawn Fanning was everywhere. All I could think was "that app isn't that complex! I could write something similar in a week or two!" I seethed at Fanning and his newfound fame as the boy genius a la Bill Gates in 1985 or Marc Andreesen in 1995. I mean, as I recall, he got the idea and then went out and got a J2EE book to figure out how to do it. This wasn't a brilliant technological breakthrough. The technology was there the whole time--he just had a nifty way to share music. They called it P2P, but it wasn't really P2P (it needed a server). Still, the idea of interconnected clients was the big thing and P2P was its name. So, for me, P2P was a dirty acronym and I pretty much walled myself off from the millions of potential P2P opportunities that everyone wanted to emulate (the b-school crowd loved to jump on those trends). 

Well, it's five years later and Napster is something completely different (and I have just become a member--more on that in a future post). But P2P is taking on new significance. I am a Groove freak. For those of you who aren't aware, Groove Networks is the brainchild of Ray Ozzie, the same man who brought the world Lotus Notes. Earlier this year, Microsoft purchased Groove. As a loyal Microsoftie, I thought it would be worth a try. Well, three months later and I am hooked. I use Groove for multiple purposes: 

  • connecting to my project team to track documents, discussions, etc.
  • maintaining my key personal files and thoughts/ideas/etc. across multiple personal PCs

Groove has so many different components that it really plays into a bunch of different scenarios. For the project approach, it is powered with several collaborative tools that make for a great for promoting team development. It's like the Swiss army knife of teamwork tools: timeline tracking, discussion boards, notepads, etc. It even has a chat facility and presence detection (which has been cool for our distributed development teams). I envision it being used to promote development of applications that are posted on CodeGallery. It's great for groups that want to collaborate on code in private and then showcase their apps in public (as opposed to Workspaces, which is great for doing everything in public).

Meanwhile, I have three primary computers that I work on interchangeably (a server at work for development, my laptop that I use between work and home, and my home PC). It's nice to maintain the latest version on each computer automatically. In the past, I used to mail files to myself, which just got ridiculous. Now I just use Groove to keep myself in sync. Now, I edit a file at work, come home, and continue on the home PC. And if I want to share my files with anyone else, all I have to do is send an invitation for a fellow Groove user to come on board.

It's been a great four months poking around with Groove and I look forward to evangelizing to others. Another project is spinning up in my group and I just received a Groove invitation. It looks like P2P may be back again. This time, I am really happy about it...