Online collaboration utilizes the organization's technology infrastructure to provide a wide array of capabilities that can be used in a synchronous or asynchronous manner. Synchronous collaboration is where the participants are communicating in real-time, either by text, voice, or video. Asynchronous collaboration is where information is shared by posting artifacts or text online for other users to access at another time. Asynchronous is generally the most common form of collaboration.
Collaboration can be grouped into three major areas: Virtual Presence, Virtual Spaces and Virtual Services.
Virtual Presence allows for users to locate and determine the status of others using the network. This allows users to select the most effective means of communication (phone, email, instant messaging, etc.) depending on the intended recipient's online status.
Virtual Spaces are any network location (workspaces, web portals, or chat spaces) where users can meet virtually and share information. They can be either persistent or temporary. Persistent spaces are generally used for asynchronous collaboration in that the information will be there for other users to access for a given amount of time in the future. Temporary spaces are synchronous collaborative sessions that only exist for the duration of the event, and then are closed. Sometimes there is an option to save or record the session, and this would become an artifact for asynchronous collaboration.
Virtual Services encompass all the different collaborative capabilities that are afforded by the enabling technology. How these services are provided vary from system to system, and not all capabilities are needed by all users or organizations. Here is a partial list of virtual services:
- Text Chat
- Audio (Voice over IP- VOIP)
- Threaded Discussion
- Shared Applications
- Voting/ Polling/ Surveys
- Automated Event Log
- Data Management
- User Display and Customization
While securing the online collaboration system can be considered a service, it is a vital piece of any collaborative solution. These applications tend to force organizations into trade-offs between security and accessibility which can seriously inhibit the functionality of the system. Here are some considerations when securing online collaboration:
- Reaction capabilities
- Software Assurance
As always, I look forward to your comments and questions.