The upcoming release of NetWare 6.5 will introduce a new group concept - "virtual teams."The idea of groups has been a part of NetWare since at least Version 2.0. Groups in the bindery, and later in the directory, allow you to administer access and trustee rights without having to touch each individual user's account. Old-timers still use groups a lot, while more recently taught administrators tend to think in terms of "roles" or group users in a container for ease of administration.Virtual teams are a new, user-centric technology for self-service setup and maintenance of online discussion groups, bulletin boards, chat rooms and instant messaging. You might look at it as an electronic break room, and certainly some people will treat it that way. On the other hand, it can also be considered a permanent, floating meeting, which should appeal to the management types.Virtual teams are different from the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol-based concept of "dynamic groups," a pretty good technology in its own right and one you should consider using.Virtual teams are an outgrowth of the collaborative solutions from Novell's GroupWise. You might think of it as GroupWare without the e-mail (so there's still a need to add on an e-mail product). It's also similar to Lotus Notes, but without the enormous overhead in resources of the IBM-owned product.Virtual teams are designed to facilitate user cooperation in news, discussion, chat, resource sharing, calendaring, project management and browser link sharing. Much of the design and setup of a team's structure can be done through a simple point-and-click interface by any user comfortable with planning group activities. No NetWare knowledge is needed.Of course, you - the network manager - have to see that the resources are available and that the person organizing the virtual team has the proper rights and privileges. But there shouldn't be a great need for ongoing maintenance on your part. Well, you might want to monitor use of disk space, but even the old problem of never having enough disk is somewhat ameliorated in NetWare 6.5 (more about that in an upcoming issue). Resource usage should actually be reduced as groups no longer need to exchange this information via multiple e-mail messages to everyone in the group - just post the information once.Virtual teams don't leverage particularly cutting-edge technology. But they deliver on the promise of collaboration - a promise made by networks, seemingly forever. They are one more reason to choose NetWare over other networking operating systems - and one more reason to upgrade to Version 6.5.