What might Mesh mean for Office and businesses?

I’ve been playing about with the Mesh preview for a week or so now and overall I’m pretty impressed.  Unfortunately I’ve not had time to look at the dev side of things (or it could be that I couldn’t code my way out of a paper bag…) but its clear from talking to developer buddies that they’re equally interested. 

Anyway, I was chatting about Mesh earlier and the subject of Office and other ‘business’ apps came up.  Or more specifically what, if anything, Mesh would mean to them.

I guess the most obvious place that Mesh could integrated is Groove.  It’s one of Ray Ozzies former projects and has more than a little in common with Mesh – or at least the functionality provided in the preview. 

The most common use  of Groove is peer to peer, you’d create a workspace or share a folder with a number of people, but there’d be no central point where the data was kept waiting for other people to come online when you were away. 

There is however the option to use Groove Enterprise Services to provide the equivalent of the cloud Mesh, a centralised service that clients could sync with which would then be available to pass on changes to other users as they came online.  Using Mesh as the sync provider for new iterations of Groove would seem to make sense.  The question to my mind is quite how that might work. 

One option would be to allow clients to sync directly with the Mesh cloud.  Although that would be the obvious and easiest solution it may not always suit enterprises.  Clients would all be syncing directly to the Internet over the corporate network, not ideal unless you have huge bandwidth.  Some companies may also be unhappy about having a copy of all their synced data sat outside of their network.

One way to provide enterprises with some additional flexibility might be to provide some form of internal Mesh – an internal Mesh cloud that clients can sync with privately.  Potentially this cloud could then sync with the main Mesh cloud in a controlled way to allow a company to better manage the bandwidth over it’s Internet connection.

How would such a Mesh cloud be delivered?  Maybe as part of Exchange or SharePoint?

One of the examples Ori Amiga gave in his Channel 9 video showed how updates made to data in an application could be synced in near real-time to other Mesh clients.  In his example he used a family tree application, but for some reason it reminded me of the Excel Calculation services in SharePoint 2007. 

ECS allows you to maintain a central version of an Excel worksheet and show updates in real-time via a SharePoint webpart (that’s a huge simplification I know).  Presumably if Excel was able to use Mesh, changes to shared workbooks could be synced with other users of that workbook.  How useful that might be I’m not sure – I’m not a huge Excel user – but the same could apply to PowerPoint or Word.

The other day I read a blog post about using Mesh as a messaging platform, unfortunately I can’t find it now to reference it.  The gist of the post was that Mesh and Feedsync provide the basis for simple IM and email tools. 

Thinking it through a bit more though surely Mesh would make a great platform for an enterprise Twitter style messaging platform?  This could be a component for Outlook or Communicator that connects directly to Live Mesh or possibly connect the notional local cloud I mentioned up above. 

Of course this all just speculation, but given the obvious investment MS has made in Mesh it would seem sensible to use the framework in some of its other products. 

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