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Tacit brings together like-minded users

Feb 24, 20033 mins
Collaboration SoftwareEnterprise ApplicationsSmall and Medium Business

PALO ALTO – Tacit Knowledge Systems this week is unveiling a server designed to link users of different collaboration platforms throughout a corporation.

The purpose of the company’s forthcoming ActiveNet server is to bring together users with the same interests who may not be aware of each other. Often organizations have a mishmash of collaboration tools from e-mail to Web-based team rooms to peer-to-peer clients. Users collaborating via one tool on a subject might not know that others are collaborating on the same topic using a different tool. The Tacit software lets companies link those pieces.

ActiveNet, using a set of connectors to collaboration platforms ranging from Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange to Open Text, Documentum and Groove Networks, can recognize those parallel conversations and link the participants.

“Tacit is trying to take collaboration to the next level,” says Matt Cain, an analyst with Meta Group. “It helps you find the right experts . . . and start a dialogue. Companies need to link content and collaboration and Tacit helps you find content and expertise.”

The server is not a central repository of data, but instead is a repository of user profiles automatically created by examining the documents and electronic communications associated with a user. Technologies such as Lotus Discovery Server and Microsoft’s SharePoint Portal Server use similar technologies within their products.

Using a feature called hotlist, ActiveNet finds information matching topics listed in a user’s profile, and the system will ask the creators of that information if they want to share the data. If they do, ActiveNet will send a message to the user alerting him to the data and its creators. From there, the user and the creators of the data can pick any tool they choose to collaborate further.

The system also has a more manual feature used to search for people with knowledge on topics as listed in their profiles.

“The use of collaboration tools is not very coordinated at large companies,” says David Gilmour, CEO of Tacit. “People have plenty of tools focused on how to collaborate, but ActiveNet is focused on who, when and why.”

ActiveNet is a Java-based application that runs on Windows 2000 and provides management controls for searching and hotlists. ActiveNet is built on Tacit’s ESP 5.0 collaboration platform, which provides search and profiling engines, and the coordination services that link users. It must be run with a Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition server, which is used to present a Web-based interface, and Microsoft’s SQL Server 2000 or Oracle 9I database.

The software also features a Web-based administrative console for setting administrative passwords and assigning roles.

ActiveNet will be priced per user profile and is expected to ship in April. A base installation ranging from 500 to 1,000 users is priced between $60,000 and $80,000.