Oracle quietly unveiled beta code for its next-generation enterprise content management platform, previously code-named Tsunami, at the AIIM On Demand show in Philadelphia this week.
According to Alan Pelz-Sharpe, vice president of software and services for the London-based research firm Ovum, the code is on display at Oracle Corp.s booth.
"Its here, and people can see it, and theyre looking at it and talking about it," he said. "Its certainly brought a whole new dynamic to the show, in the sense that everybody realizes now that this market is serious and it will grow."
Pelz-Sharpe said the platform has been renamed Oracle Content Services 10g, but an Oracle spokesperson said that the company does not yet have an official name for the product.
First announced at Oracle OpenWorld in December, the new platform is the companys response to growing demands for the ability to manage both structured and unstructured data management.
According to a report by Ovum after the firm was given demonstrations of the product before the OpenWorld announcement, Oracle planned to feature capabilities such as access control lists, check-in/check-out, policy-based retention and storage management, folder- and document-level security, workflow services and policy-based versioning.
At that time, Ovum reported that the product would also likely include document-management components such as imaging and print services based on various partnerships.
While IBM has long been a player in the ECM (enterprise cost management) market, Oracle is relatively new to it. Because of a lower price point and its large installed user base, Oracles entry into the market will enable ECM to play to a much larger audience, Pelz-Sharpe said.
"The very low price point for sure" will help Oracle gain traction with the new platform, Pelz-Sharpe said, as will the fact that Oracle built the product to be "very easy to scale to very large numbers indeed," with very little administration.
Oracle had not returned calls for product or pricing details by the time this story was posted.
"The ease [with which one can] scale to 5,000, 10,000, 50,000, without having to bring in another administrator … thats very impressive," Pelz-Sharpe said.
While IBM has been in the ECM space a long time and is currently a market leader, its legacy applications keep it from radical innovation, he said. "Oracle doesnt have that legacy, so theyre able to do something quite different," he said. "IBM has to keep two camps happy, and thats difficult."
Some analysts say that vendors from other realms are currently doing a better job at the ECM job of wrangling structured and unstructured data, via metadata, than the technology stalwarts.
William Hurley, an analyst with Enterprise Strategies Group, pointed to Apple Computer Inc. or Avid Technology Inc.—vendors that have a strong hold on digital editing and professional audio systems used by the film, music, and television industries.
"Theres a high degree of transparency between the widget and the information they produce," he said.
What relational database players IBM and Oracle bring to the table, however, is their genius at handling relational structures—still the simplest way of handling unstructured or structured data. "Ultimately, metadata, whether expressed in XML or not, is most useful in relational structures, so you can cross-correlate," he said.
Editors Note: This story was updated to correct information about the name and status of Oracles content management platform.