Oracle Pushes Collaboration

Forthcoming advances in Oracle Collaboration Suite could give enterprises a compelling alternative to rival messaging and collaboration platforms from IBM, Microsoft.

Oracle Corp. is preparing advanced capabilities for its Oracle Collaboration Suite that could give enterprises a compelling alternative to rival messaging and collaboration platforms from IBM and Microsoft Corp.

Oracle this week will ship Release 2 of OCS, which introduces Web conferencing to the platform. Then, in September, the Redwood Shores, Calif., company will announce a major upgrade, due in the first half of next year, that will add embedded instant messaging and presence throughout the suite, which includes e-mail, voice mail, calendaring, file serving and search applications.

Oracle will offer integrated content management and document and records management in next years release, said Sunir Kapoor, vice president of Oracles enterprise messaging and collaboration business. Oracle isnt looking to rival stand-alone vendors in those areas but offer a more basic level of functionality to make it easier for customers to store and manage e-mail, instant messages and Web conferencing sessions, Kapoor said.

The company next year will replace existing interfaces to add collaborative components to applications with APIs that provide more robust, higher-level, scriptable interfaces, Kapoor said. Collaborative work spaces, similar to those offered by Documentum Inc.s eRoom, Groove Networks Inc. and SiteScape Inc., are also on next years road map.

Embedded IM is becoming a key feature in messaging and collaboration software. IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., will offer those capabilities in its Lotus Software divisions Notes client in the Version 6.5 release of Notes/Domino, also planned for September. Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., is working on a similar vision with its Real Time Communication Server product, which is expected to be released to manufacturing next week.

Chris Colomb, manager of messaging systems at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, said embedded IM is a key feature hes looking for. "IMs a big deal to our student body," Colomb said. "Ive been looking to install systemwide IM here. If it comes with a product we already license, its a big advantage, especially if it comes integrated with the products we already have."