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Vendors boost collaboration tools

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Two companies next week will introduce collaboration software designed to help users swap data more securely and ease the sharing of information between handheld and desktop applications.

Endeavors Technology will introduce Version 3.0 of its Magi Enterprise, a peer-to-peer based collaboration tool. Endeavors has added a brokering service that addresses nagging IT concerns over peer-to-peer security, especially across the firewall.

And Advanced Reality will unveil an integration of its Presence AR technology with Cutting Edge Software's QuickOffice for the Palm handheld, allowing collaboration between the handhelds and Microsoft Office desktop applications. The integration is part of a trend called contextual collaboration, which lets users stay within familiar interfaces while working together.

With Magi 3.0, Endeavors is introducing its Connection Broker, which lets computers establish a peer-to-peer connection over a corporate firewall using the security rules associated with that firewall. Security of peer-to-peer connections has been a major stumbling block to adoption of the technology for interenterprise collaboration.

The broker also uses a lightweight public-key infrastructure (PKI) for security.

"The fact that they have a collaboration environment with PKI is very appealing," says David Parillo, business development manager for Anteon, a San Diego system integration company. Parillo needs that security for a Web-based application he designed for the U.S. Navy. "The security is a major discriminating characteristic and is a huge issue for the Navy."

Endeavors also has added the Magi Domain Name Server, which manages access control lists, user registrations, authentication, digital certificates and usage rules. The server can sit on the corporate network or be hosted by Endeavors. Magi 3.0 also includes a data extraction toolkit to build pipelines to pull information from databases and corporate applications into Magi, letting data be aggregated in one spot.

Magi 3.0, which competes with collaborative software from vendors such as Groove Networks and iManage, will ship next week; pricing starts at $200 per user.

Palm treat

Also next week, Advanced Reality will begin embedding its Presence AR software in QuickOffice for the Palm. Presence AR lifts data out of application interfaces and presents it in the interfaces of other applications. For example, data in an Excel spreadsheet can be displayed in a different spreadsheet program.

"The concept of making standard applications more collaborative is the wave of the future," says Mark Levitt, an analyst with IDC. "The point is to bring collaboration to a much broader audience." The upshot is users don't have to be trained on specific collaboration software, but can use collaborative capabilities within known applications.

"We are taking the Palm into a distributed network where users can collaborate in real time with desktop users," says Brian McGrath, a vice president at Advanced Reality, which says its software can be used to monitor access control and security. The company says it plans to expand its real-time collaboration to all handhelds.

Pricing for the Presence AR version of QuickOffice has not been set.

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Contact Senior Editor John Fontana

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