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August 29, 2005

Oracle GAs overdue collaboration suite 10g

Oracle Corp has finally pushed its 10g Collaboration Suite into general availability - a year after it was slated for delivery. The new release comes with much improved content management tools and new collaborative workspaces, the company said.

By CBR Staff Writer

Oracle is positioning Collaboration Suite, which was formerly being marketed as Oracle Files, as a platform for enabling collaborative business through the effective sharing of structured and unstructured content. It represents Oracle’s first serious stab at the enterprise content management (ECM) market – i.e. unstructured data management.

Built to integrate with Oracle’s core 10g database and application server infrastructure, Collaborative Suite 10g attempts to extend Oracle’s core competencies in structured (relational) data management to the world of unstructured documents by linking both types of content to collaboration and unified messaging environments.

Content Services 10g is really the successor to Oracle Files and provides core content management capabilities for managing unstructured documents. It also includes record management tools. Also new in the release is the notion of Oracle Workspaces, which are best described as collaboration portals that foster team-based collaboration around documents, messages, meetings, discussion threads and task lists. The Workspace encapsulates and manages all the related information for a project in a single location.

Real-time collaboration tools, like instant messaging, voice chat and presence technology, are also supported by the new suite. Also included is a unified messaging infrastructure that brings together email, voicemail and fax in a single manageable system.

Oracle’s first launch of its Collaboration Suite, nearly three years ago now, was intended to provide a lower-cost alternative to Microsoft Corp’s Exchange and IBM Corp’s Notes/Domino collaborative environments. The initial version of the product offered personal email, calendaring, web conferencing and group file management tools.

However Oracle has struggled to wrestle away any significant market share away from these two entrenched incumbents, despite a much lower price tag. Oracle ranks seventh on IDC’s market share listings for integrated collaborative software – with a paltry 0.3% share. Not surprisingly Microsoft and IBM dominate with 51% and 40% respectively.

Oracle is hoping the injection of new functionality will make it more attractive to buyers. Opinion however is divided whether it will succeed. Despite positioning Collaboration Server 10g as a standalone server that can be used by non-Oracle customers, the product is perhaps best suited for Oracle customers seeking rudimentary collaboration and messaging tools tightly linked to the core database and application server stack.

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Pricing for Collaboration Suite 10g remains unchanged – at $60 per user. Licenses for each of the three individual products (content services, real-time collaboration and unified messaging) are available for $45 per user. Records management functionality is available as an add-on option for an additional $100 per user.

Oracle remains coy about why Collaboration Suite 10g, which was being developed under the code-name Tsunami, has taken two years to develop saying only that it has been a big effort and a very challenging task. However its well known that the company has seen a lot of twists and changes in its protracted development cycle.

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