Center for Information Technology Services

Collaboration Software Purchased with Researchers in Mind

The purchase of Vibe was an idea born out of the CITS strategic planning process.  Although Google Docs has proved to be a popular tool for document collaboration, some members of the campus community could not get comfortable with a “cloud-based” solution.  Many CITS customers, especially faculty engaged in research, asked for a product that facilitates long-distance collaboration on document authoring similarly to Google Docs, but one that runs securely on a UM server behind firewalls, intrusion detection, and other security measures employed by CITS to ensure the safety and privacy of work done as part of the University’s mission. 

After a year-long search, a formal RFP, and side-by-side testing of several products, Vibe, a Novell product, was chosen for its robust features, ease-of-use, and low cost of ownership.  Some of the features users can look forward to are the ability to collaboratively build research proposals, write and edit results papers, blog to an interest group, and create a discussion board for private communications among colleagues. Of special interest to many is the ability to synchronize a Vibe folder with a location on a personal computer so that edits can be done with Microsoft Office products without logging into Vibe.  There is also synchronization with Novell’s Groupwise productivity package.

At the time of the writing of this article, Vibe has been purchased and installation is being scheduled. Training for administrators and infrastructure staff will occur this summer. Then a pilot group will begin using the product and give feedback to CITS staff and school Vibe administrators.  Once tested and stabilized, Vibe will roll out to faculty in select departments in the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Social Work, and Dentistry, with provision for other schools which may decide to join later.  Individualized training will be offered through self-paced tutorials, desk aids, and short videos (Snippets) to demonstrate how to perform specific tasks. Analysis and design of training is already underway, and delivery of training to faculty who want to be in the first wave will occur in the summer and early fall.