Groove Server Data Bridge Functionality


Updated: April 1, 2008

Applies To: Groove Server 2007

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Topic Last Modified: 2008-03-10

The Groove Data Bridge facilitates integration between Groove clients and third-party applications used by an organization. This is accomplished through the use of administrator-defined Data Bridge identities that integrate third-party software, located anywhere on the network, with information contained in Groove workspaces. These specialized identities merge seamlessly into service-oriented architectures (SOAs).

Groove Data Bridge-based operations gain access to Groove workspaces via the specialized identities which can be invited to workspaces. Workspaces that contain a Groove Data Bridge identity are then present on the Groove Data Bridge device. Once resident on a Groove Data Bridge server, a Groove workspace inherits a rich set of platform Web services that process XML-based calls from external applications in the data center. In this way, the Groove Data Bridge functions as a data access tier, moderating data and process integration between Groove workspaces and other applications and processes.

The following section describes the operation and main administrative capabilities of the Groove Data Bridge.

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The Groove Data Bridge runs on a computer at a company site, from which it hosts identities that server administrators define and manage through the Data Bridge administrative interface. A Groove Data Bridge identity exposes a set of Web Services that allow data and process integration between Groove workspaces and other software and systems in an enterprise IT network. Groove Web Services APIs support CRUD (create, read, update, delete) operations. By programming to Groove Web Services on the Data Bridge server, developers can build applications that integrate Groove workspaces with an organization’s external databases and applications, such as SharePoint sites, BizTalk®, SQL databases, Windows Workflow Foundation, and other Web services, including custom Windows .NET services. Data flow between the external software and Groove Data Bridge can be uni-directional or bi-directional.

Building a Groove Data Bridge system to moderate data exchange between Groove users and other enterprise applications involves three high-level tasks:

  • Writing a Web services program to direct data interchange from an external database or other application.

  • Creating a structure of Groove Files, Forms, and Calendar tools (the three Web services-enabled tools) that will handle the transfer of Groove workspace data.

  • Creating one or more Groove Data Bridge identities to field Web services calls from an external program on behalf of Groove users who participate in a designated workspace.

Like user identities, Groove Data Bridge identities appear in workspaces of which they are members and in user contact lists, and they have associated contact (vCard) properties. Groove users can invite a Data Bridge identity into a workspace or join a space of which a Data Bridge identity is a member. Performing integration operations through a Groove Data Bridge identity originating from a Data Bridge server has the following advantages over the option of direct client-side integration:

  • Groove Data Bridge identities provide always-available, scalable, single-point integration. Single-point integration, as opposed to multi-point integration where transactions from multiple Groove client devices are exchanged with central servers, is an advantage if a task requires resources that are not available to all devices and if a single point for coordinating Groove with an external database or application is desirable. The Figure 1 below illustrates the difference between a single-point Groove Data Bridge configuration and a multi-point configuration.

  • Integration tasks can run automatically without requiring user action.

  • Integration tasks can be optimized to efficiently handle large amounts of data or serve many Groove workspaces.

Figure 1. Single-Point and Multi-point Integration

Groove Data Bridge Server topology

Server management options are available from the Groove Data Bridge administrative interface. The main server window displays the current online/offline status of the server and Web services and allows administrators to manage a server contact list. Using menu options, administrators can perform other server-based tasks, such as changing the Groove Data Bridge password, backing up the server account, or closing the password-protected administrative window to allow the server to run in the background.

The Groove Data Bridge reports events to the Windows Event Log and Performance Monitor, allowing administrators to use these tools to monitor server health.

The Groove Data Bridge backup option allows server administrators to schedule automatic backup of Groove Data Bridge server account data. Backed up data consists of core account data, including server configuration details and a list of workspaces on the server; it does not include workspace data (which is recoverable by using Groove’s inherent workspace fetch capability). Administrators can then use the Data Bridge installer to restore the backed-up account if necessary.

Server administrators can create Groove Data Bridge identities via the administrative interface. An identity performs tasks in a Groove workspace, guided by a set of Web services. The identity may be invited to a workspace or may be programmatically driven to create its own workspace to which users may be invited. You can create a single identity to handle a set of Web services, or you can create separate identities with specific objects.

Identity management options are available from the Groove Data Bridge administrative interface, where an administrator can edit identity contact properties, configure invitation processing, and add Groove identities to the server contacts list.

The Groove Data Bridge administrative interface enables you to view the list of workspaces of which a Groove Data Bridge identity is a member, along with the identity’s role and status in each workspace. This information is maintained and reported separately for each Groove Data Bridge identity.

Enabling the workspace archiving feature for an identity allows administrators to schedule data archiving for all workspaces of which the identity is a member. Archived workspaces are static copies of the data in the original workspaces. Administrators can use the archived copy of the data to restore workspace data by downloading a specific .gsa file from its stored location to a client device, then using the Groove’s built-in workspace fetching capability to complete the space restoration process. This type of workspace restoration is particularly useful when an identity is the sole workspace member and the workspace is lost, or when a file or other data is damaged or lost and a previous workspace version containing the correct data is needed.

Groove Instant Messages and invitations, received or sent by Groove Data Bridge identities, are listed in the Groove Data Bridge administrative interface. All invitations, processed and unprocessed, are included in the message list with their status indicated. If a Data Bridge identity is configured for manual invitation acceptance, administrators can accept invitations from the message list.

Administrators can monitor Groove Data Bridge server activity using the Windows Event Viewer. Reported events include server shut downs and restarts, as well as identity-level events, such as new identity creation. Windows Performance monitoring tools provide server performance statistics, tracing, and other server information.