Thursday, December 16, 2010

Novell Vibe- The Latest in Enterprise Collaboration

This is a cross-post from my blog on the Military Social Networking system milBook. I have also started a new blog on the new online space for FedWave here, which is restricted access for the time being.  

As a reminder, there is an online community for Federal Wave (FedWave) located here. You must apply for membership first at I will approve all reasonable requests for group access.

Novell Vibe is a new enterprise collaboration offering from Novell. Vibe is the combination of the Novell Pulse and Novell Teaming projects. It incorporates the Wave Federation Protocol in order to foster inter-operation with systems such as Apache Wave/ Wave in a Box (open source version of Google Wave) and SAP StreamWork.Vibe Beta was rolled out at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference on November 9, 2010. Here are some of the articles on Vibe that were published in conjunction with the announcement.

Novell revealed on November 22nd that it was being acquired by Attachmate. This should not affect Vibe product development.
This blog post will give a brief overview of the system. This is not a commercial endorsement for Novell or Vibe, but I will use their promotional material and documentation in different places throughout this post.

The Vibe User Guide definition: Novell Vibe cloud service is a real-time collaboration Web application that unites common communication, authoring, and social messaging tools. You can use Vibe to share documents, jointly have digital conversations, and interact through social media. At present, Novell only plans to offer Vibe in a Cloud version (Software as a Service -SaaS). An on-premise version is provisionally on the product roadmap for 2011.

The basic components of Vibe are as follows:

1. Profile/ Feed: One of the central pieces of Vibe is the user profile. This is a core concept in all Social Media, and Vibe does a good job combining profiles with enterprise authentication/ authorization (see also below).

When you first launch Novell Vibe, you see the Home view, which consists of the following sections:

As evidenced by the image, Vibe has a simple interface that should be easy for most users to understand and manipulate. Another important concept in Vibe is the idea of feeds, with your personal feed being where you can provide status updates similar to other Social Media tools (see also below). Also, Vibe can be configured to provide notifications on various types of activities using email or other methods.

2. Messaging: Messages are the method to communicate with other Novell Vibe cloud service users.Depending on who you want to view your message, Vibe enables you to send messages in various ways.To communicate on a broad level to all Vibe users who are following a given person (see below), a message can be sent to that user's personal feed.Like e-mail, Vibe enables you to send messages directly to specific users. When you send a direct
message, only message recipients can view the message.A message can be sent to a group by posting a message on any group feed. Users can combine these different modes as needed to get messages to desired combinations of users.

3. Following: Individuals can follow users and groups that interest them. When following users and groups, the most recent messages from those users and groups are displayed in the BigList. Depending on the user’s permission settings, they might need to approve followers. These followers can be organized in a variety of ways configurable by the user. This is another characteristic of Social Media addressed in Vibe.  

4. Groups: Groups in Novell Vibe cloud service consist of various users who share a common purpose. Many aspects of groups are configurable by users, and permissions can be set for various group members. Permissions define who can do what in connection with the group.Users can have a variety of roles in a group, such as administrator.

5. Working together in real time: Novell Vibe cloud service enables you to see when other users are online, when they are away, and when they are offline. Knowing when users are available makes real-time collaboration more efficient.Vibe enables multiple users to simultaneously edit the same message. Gadgets can enhance the functionality of messages, making them more rich and useful.

6. Find and Organize Information: Novell Vibe cloud service provides various ways that to organize user data.Tagging functionality in Vibe enables users to create different types of virtual containers for messages. Like using folders in e-mail, information can be categorized, and then retrieved and reviewed at a later time. Important messages can be marked with a star. Users can then filter the BigList to display only messages that have been marked with a star. Tables of contents enable individuals to create links to messages in the Vibe site. You can create tables of contents on a personal profile page, or on a group profile page. There are also various ways to filter and view messages based on multiple criteria.

7. Managing Files: Novell Vibe cloud service enables users to upload, share, and manage your personal and group files. Documents can be tagged and organized in different ways, and can be the subject of messages using functionality mentioned earlier. 

8. Selectively Limiting Access to Information: Some users might find that the default access rights in Novell Vibe cloud service are too open. They can limit access rights to messages and groups. In general all messages that are posted to a personal feed are visible to all users who are currently following that individual. Furthermore, users can edit messages if they are direct recipients of the message. There is a capability to send a private message to one or more Vibe users. This ensures that only those users you specifically send the message to are able to read it. In addition, users can make messages not editable. Only the message creator is able to edit the message. By default, all files that are added to the Files tab in the Home view are visible only to the user. One user cannot generally view another user’s files. When creating or editing a group, users can restrict access to the group by setting up the group permissions. There are properties that restrict who can see the group, who can follow the group, who can contribute to the group, and so forth.By default, anyone in the organization or anyone a user is currently following can follow that user. This setting can be changed to require users to get permission before they are added to the follower list. Also by default, anyone in the organization can send messages directly to a user, unless they modify a setting restricting this activity. All of this is very important to Enterprise and Government users.

However, one of the key attributes of Vibe is its ability to foster collaboration between different organizations. Vibe leverages the Wave Federation Protocol to provide interoperability with Google Wave, Apache Wave, SAP Streamwork, and other emerging Wave-based technologies. This has already been demonstrated in this video
that shows both how a typical use case for this inter-organization collaboration and how it looks from the user perspective. This will allow large organizations using an Enterprise system such as Vibe or StreamWork to work effectively with small entities using the open source Apache Wave or a similar system.

Again, this does not constitute a commercial endorsement of this product, and is strictly the opinion of the author. Please post your questions or comments below, and thanks for reading.

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