Web Software Caters to Project Teams

PALO ALTO, CALIF. (03/30/2000) - Netmosphere Inc. next week will release a Web-based collaboration software suite designed to let department-level enterprise users quickly take projects online.

The company is attempting to offer a simplified way for project teams to collaborate, short of setting up a Lotus Notes or Microsoft Exchange infrastructure and creating applications for those platforms.

While users may not get the depth of features they would with Notes or Exchange, they should be able to quickly open online real-time collaboration sites that span their intranets and extranets.

Enact Enterprise System 4.0 is the combination of ActionPlan and Project Home Page, two applications formerly offered separately by Netmosphere. The Enact suite provides a set of Java-based components targeted at a user's role in planning or executing a project. The ActionPlan component provides a list of team members and the tools for building a project plan. The ActionView component offers an analysis of a project's progress. The ActionTask component delivers tasks that team members must complete and a tracking mechanism for following the flow of project work.

"The task list feature of Enact has proven extremely helpful as we attempt to distribute workloads in a way that supports on-time, competent delivery of services," says Tim Liddell, vice president of operations at Med-ical Manager Midwest, which implements and supports systems for medical management. "Our district managers review task lists multiple times throughout the day, looking for delinquencies and potential production snags." Liddell says the Web support within Enact allows mobile employees to update their work in real time.

The suite's core is Enact Server, which pushes the components out to users through a Web-browser interface. Netmosphere also has added support for Palm OS on the client side.

The server features a real-time update engine, which can refresh users' browser screens as project tasks are completed. Netmosphere also included e-mail notification to Enact 4.0. Support for Oracle databases and Microsoft's SQL Server, as well as support for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol-based directories, also has been added.

"Netmosphere is starting to put its collaboration vision to work," says Allen Bonde, an analyst with Extraprise, a consulting firm in Boston. "The core application may be project management, but it is becoming an enterprise collaboration portal by creating layers users can build on."

Netmosphere has developed a set of Enact APIs that let users hook the collaboration environment to other applications. The company also plans to develop a set of prebuilt Enactors, or connectors to other systems, with the first focused on e-commerce. For example, users would be able to link a shipping application into the collaboration workflow if a project plan called for shipping documents or goods to a customer. Enact Server also supports secure access using Secure Sockets Layer encryption so it can be used across the Internet or hosted by application service providers.

Enact, which runs on Windows NT, Linux and Lotus Domino, is expected to be available next week. Pricing has not been set.