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Oracle builds out Beehive collaboration suite

Oracle has updated its collaboration platform, bringing social networking and collaboration features to compete with IBM and Microsoft.

ORLANDO -- Today, at its Collaborate '09 conference, Oracle rolled out a spruced up version of its Beehive collaboration platform with a new Web-based Team Workspaces feature that lets teams better manage and share information.

Built into Team Workspaces are a handful of capabilities including team calendaring, contextual search, wikis, file sharing, support for RSS, and a micro blog for sending out announcements. The new feature can be either centrally accessed or set up by individual teams, and it does not require a portal to function, company officials said.

The enhanced version crystallizes the goal Oracle had for Beehive when it first introduced the product, according to David Gilmour, senior vice president in charge of Oracle's collaboration technologies.

"The new version finally brings to completion the coverage for all the major categories, which includes email, synchronization collaboration, and team collaboration," Gilmour said.

Because the Team Workspace client functions as a browser-based Web service, administrators can more easily create a place for teams of people to work collaboratively. A key feature in the new version is the wiki, he said.

For more on Collaborate and Beehive
Get the details on Oracle's initial release of Beehive

See coverage of all the announcements at Collaborate

Read an update on Beehive and see how it will be rolled into WebCenter

"At the center of this is a wiki which allows a team to either produce content in an ad hoc, unstructured way or to organize its own work in some other ways better suited to its needs," Gilmour said.

Oracle continues to extol the virtues of Beehive's all-in-one, centralized approach to collaborative computing compared with the more distributed offerings of archrivals such as Microsoft and IBM.

"Microsoft and IBM have quite a few products that cover this [collaboration] space," Gilmour said. "When you take all those products and scale them in a data center, you get a complicated and expensive piece of infrastructure. Our approach is to offer one platform with everything in there for things like archiving, records management and information rights management and have that sit on top of Oracle's middleware and database."

While users can deploy all the Oracle-developed applications in Beehive, they can choose to swap them out in favor of competitive open source or proprietary products giving them more flexibility.

"For instance, Beehive has email, but you don't have to use that component or use it for all your users. You can leave some of them on an Exchange server and some on a Beehive server and still have both groups do things like full calendar integrations," Gilmour explained.

Other new features in Beehive include:

  • Improved Web and voice conferencing so users can add security and content management policies to conferencing, along with an on-demand conference recording and retrieval capability.
  • Tighter integration with a range of desktop productivity tools, serving to reduce training costs because users are more familiar with that software.

IT shops have the choice of buying Beehive either as a software service or through a more traditional on-premise license.

"If customers tell us they want to buy this as a service and pay us $15 a month, it is theirs for the taking," Gilmour said.

Asked whether the new offering's ability to be delivered as a service was intended to fit specifically with the rumored Software as a Service applications Oracle is working on, he declined comment.

According to reports published last week, Oracle is working on seven online applications. Among them is one to help users with marketing and product management, another to manage human resources, and another specifically targeted at the insurance industry.

Available immediately, Beehive costs $50 per user, plus options including messaging for $30 per user, team collaboration for $30 per user, synchronous collaboration for $20 per user, and voicemail for $20 per user.

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