SiteScape furthers collaboration suite

A new release of SiteScape Inc. software lets companies add real-time communication support to their collaboration environment and link data collected in online meetings to discussion threads, stored documents, calendars and workflows.

SiteScape added a real-time element to its collaboration suite with the release of a Web conferencing module for its Enterprise Forum 7.0 software. The company recently shipped Forum eMeeting, which provides conferencing, whiteboard and application sharing, and voice and video over IP.

“We are really using the application sharing where users can just open [Microsoft] Word and start writing or use PowerPoint to share a presentation,” says Zbigniew Ignatowicz, manager for IS for the Standards Council of Canada in Ottawa. The Council has nearly 6,000 users spread over 500 committees that voice Canada’s standing on standards that cover everything from technology to agriculture. Ignatowicz will roll out the software later this month with the hopes of achieving some cost-savings and making it easier for committee members to hold meetings without having to travel.

“We expect this [real-time] communication will help us speed our processes,” Ignatowicz says. He says the integrated nature of eMeetings with Enterprise Forum 7.0 also means less training will be needed, because it works within the software’s standard interface.

He says the council might offer e-learning courses using the software.

The eMeetings module also provides the option of keeping their information behind their own firewalls. Late last year, SiteScape introduced integration between Enterprise Forum 7.0 and a hosted conferencing service from Placeware.

SiteScape is trying to keep pace with other collaboration vendors such as IBM/Lotus, Microsoft and eRoom Technologies, which are mixing real-time features with their traditional collaboration platforms.

“Convergence of synchronous [real-time] and asynchronous technology such as messaging is a major trend,” says Lewis Ward, senior analyst for Collaborative Strategies. “The combination of the two is the Holy Grail of collaboration.”

On the client side, Forum eMeeting requires use of Internet Explorer 4.01 or higher and Netscape 4.08 or higher. Forum 7.0, which runs on Windows NT or 2000, Sun Solaris and Red Hat Linux, supports Microsoft’s SQL Server 2000 and Oracle 8i databases to go along with the custom database that ships with the software.

Forum eMeeting is available now and is priced at US$99 per user, in addition to the US$99 per-user license required for Forum 7.0.