ERCIM News No.35 - October 1998
BSCW Groupware System now Commercially Available
by Wolfgang Appelt
GMDs BSCW (Basic Support for Cooperative Work) Shared Workspace System is now commercially distributed by OrbiTeam Software GmbH, a spin-off company of GMD which was recently founded.
The BSCW system developed by GMDs Institute for Applied Information Technology is an efficient tool for computer supported cooperation. It is particularly useful for geographically dispersed groups working in a heterogeneous system environment. The system is implemented as an extension to normal Web servers such as the Apache Web Server or the Microsoft NT Internet Information Server.
The BSCW system is based on the notion of shared workspaces, joint storage facilities which may contain various kinds of objects such as documents, tables, spreadsheets, links to Web pages, and many more. Workspaces are set up and maintained by the end-users themselves. For downloading, modification and storage of objects a normal Web browser such as Netscape or MS Internet Explorer is sufficient. The BSCW system will keep the members of a group informed about each other?s relevant activities in the shared workspace. As an example, the system can be used to create virtual enterprises or to manage projects involving partners from different organisations.
In December 1996, the BSCW system has won the European Software Innovation Prize (ESIP96) and has attracted many thousand users in the meantime. GMD operates a public BSCW server at http://bscw.gmd.de/ and also releases the software so that interested parties may install their own BSCW servers.
While the BSCW system will remain free of charge for academic and non-commercial research organisations, other parties need a commercial licence since version 3.2 - released in July 1998. Licences may be obtained from OrbiTeam Software GmbH, a GMD spin-off company which was founded to ensure professional, long-term maintenance and development of the system.
OrbiTeam (http://www.orbiteam.de) will also provide customer services which are beyond the scope of GMD as a research organisation: professional help-desk support, installation and configuration of BSCW servers, enhancements of and extensions to the system answering specific customer requirements, or dedicated training courses for system administrators and end users.
Wolfgang Appelt - GMD
Tel: +49 2241 14 2326