One thing that's become really obvious to us is that
while there's a good Internet specification for
individual calendar events, which allows you to
efficiently pass calendar information around the
Internet. But this breaks down at the enterprise level:
there is really no good way of moving an entire
server of scheduling information from one
platform to another.
Surprisingly, there are just three solutions: synching each user's calendar with PDAs, massively emailing iCal events, and exporting and importing individual calendars. All of these have the same several drawbacks:
This really does not sit well with end users who have to live through it, re-entering information they have previously entered. It is fraught with difficulty, lack of management, and massive logistical drawbacks.
Usually conference rooms and resources are an afterthought, though any confusion in their allocation causes more pain quicker than any single user's calendar except the CEO's.
Working on legacy Meeting Maker and Novell GroupWise data as we've moved them into Microsoft Exchange and more recently IBM's Lotus Notes, Sumatra developed the notion of a Common Calendar Format (CCF) to facilitate movement of entire calendar servers between different groupware platforms.
The idea is simple and like iCal aims to abstract out on the information that is always needed, but from the standpoint of the entire collection of users rather than just the standalone user.
Let's define a few terms:
The source is the originating system, usually one past its freshness date, which the end user wishes to obsolete in favor of a newer system.
The target is the desired end point. Usually Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes / Domino.
Data is extracted from the source and inserted into the target. Usually between the extraction and the insertion there is the need to map user ids between the source and target systems. The mediator of all of this is a single relational database which contains the calendar data from the source system, as well as the user ID mapping between the source and target systems.
This approach has several advantages:
As you have seen, we have source readers for Meeting Maker and (under development) GroupWise, and insertion code for Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes (via a development partner). Others are under development as we get demand from customers.