Oracle Enters Communications, Collaboration Fray

Beehive was among a slew of new software and software upgrade announcements Oracle made at its Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco. They included the new Oracle Business Process Management Suite, a new release of the Oracle VM virtualization software, a preview of the upcoming Oracle E-Business Suite 12.1 applications, and mobile sales applications for Apple's iPhone.

The Monday morning keynotes also included a cameo appearance by Olympic gold medal winner Michael Phelps. There are approximately 43,000 attendees at this year's conference, up five percent from last year.

Oracle president Charles Phillips, delivering the morning's opening keynote address, acknowledged some may be puzzled by Oracle's decision to field a communications and collaboration product when there are so many already on the market. But he said many businesses have a hodgepodge of disparate e-mail, instant messaging, calendar and collaboration applications and would prefer a single, integrated system. "A lot of times it becomes a nightmare," he said.

Phillips pitched Beehive as the first enterprise-class communication and collaboration software that's fully integrated, centrally managed and secure. It includes e-mail, instant messaging, calendar and team collaboration functions. The product is based on Web 2.0 technologies and runs on the vendor's Fusion middleware and the Oracle database. Phillips said the software works with other communications and collaboration client software, including Microsoft Outlook, and can work "alongside" Microsoft Exchange.

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"But just to be clear, there will be one Beehive server next to 200 Exchange servers," Phillips said, getting in a dig at Microsoft.

Oracle has been developing the Beehive product for three years, said Chuck Rozwat, Oracle's executive vice president of product development. The product is available today in on-premise and software-as-a-service versions priced at $120 per user.

The Oracle Business Process Management Suite, available now, combines Oracle software with technology from the company's BEA Systems acquisition earlier this year. The suite's components are used to manage human- and system-centric business processes. The bundle includes the Oracle BPEL Process Manager, Oracle Business Activity Monitoring, Oracle Business Rules, and Oracle Business Process Management software.

The new Oracle VM Release 2.1.2 is certified to work with Oracle's Real Applications Clusters clustering technology, providing high-availability failover capabilities to software running in virtualized environments. The new release, available now, comes one year after Oracle jumped into the virtualization software space with Oracle VM.

The new Oracle Mobile Sales Assistant, Oracle Mobile Sales Forecast and Business Approvals applications for the Apple iPhone will be available through the Apple App Store by the end of November. The Business Approvals app works with the Oracle E-Business Suite and Siebel CRM systems.

Oracle E-Business Suite 12.1 will offer significant enhancements to its financial applications and improvements to its human resource management, supply chain management and procurement software. The suite overall will offer new capabilities for companies doing business on a global basis.