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ERoom makes sharing data easier

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CAMBRIDGE, MASS. - ERoom Technology is going real-time with its Web-based application that provides online workspaces for sharing documents and organizing projects.

The company this week will introduce its eRoom Real Time Server, which lets users collaborate on documents, hold chat sessions and share applications live over the Web or corporate intranets using only a standard Web browser. The live capabilities will augment eRoom's current asynchronous communication, in which users work on documents one at a time or post messages for future response.

ERoom is also launching another server, eRoom Advanced Server, which provides administrative and management controls to support multiserver deployments of eRoom to handle more than 10,000 users.

IT executives will now have the ability to add real-time features without having to deploy additional products and also gain the type of management features required to scale eRoom across a large company.

"We hope that the real-time features will become a natural extension of what we already do with eRoom," says Rob Ditto, senior IT project leader at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Ditto supports users that collaborate on documents and hold online discussions as part of 105 courses in the school's M.B.A. program.

ERoom is the cornerstone of a program called webCafe, an online community of faculty, staff and students. "The most common use is to support course work, and now we will look to add a real-time element." Ditto says he must still determine if the technology will work efficiently for his dial-up users.

Real Time server lets users collaborate on editing and annotating documents and provides a whiteboard, chat, and desktop sharing. The server works in conjunction with eRoom Server.

Other vendors offer similar group collaboration. Lotus has QuickPlace and Microsoft has its SharePoint TeamServices feature of Office XP and SharePoint Portal Server. Other collaboration servers include Intraspect's Intraspect 4 and iManage's WorkSite.

In addition to real-time features, eRoom is addressing scalability. Advanced Server has new administrative tools for managing multiple servers and large user populations from one console. The console lets new users be assigned to any server in the eRoom environment.

Advanced Server will only be available through professional services organizations.

Both servers run on Windows NT 4.0 and 2000. Real Time Server runs only with eRoom 5.0 and will not be compatible with eRoom Advanced Server until this fall.

Real Time Server costs $7,500 per server and $150 per user. Advanced Server costs between $50,000 and $70,000. The average price for professional services is $100,000.

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