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October 18, 1998

ORACLE TRIES AGAIN AT ENTERPRISE MESSAGING

By CBR Staff Writer

Having tried and failed to make the grade in the enterprise messaging market by its own admission, Oracle Corp now believes it has got all its messaging ducks in a row and will today launch its first integrated internet messaging product, confusingly called version 4.2, as it does not want to appear to be new to the game. Oracle used to have a package called InterOffice, which was supposed to take on Microsoft Office, and then got remodeled as groupware and messaging, which is where the numbering comes from. That, it seems, has now been killed and the best bits from it have been thrown into Internet Messaging, a package aimed at service providers and corporations to provide standards-based e-mail and other forms of messaging, scheduling and directory services. In doing so, Oracle reckons it straddles what it sees as the three messaging sectors: service providers, enterprise and e-mail response management and in doing so sets it apart from the likes of SendMail, Software.com, Netscape messaging server and Microsoft Exchange. This version takes the data schema, data engine and management from InterOffice the pieces that worked, says Ranjan Das, group product marketing manager in the internet applications group, everything else having been obseleted and it adds new internet server protocols and eliminates the client software. And talk of the death of Oracle’s famed marketing-babble, the Network Computing Architecture, being dead would be premature it seems. We should now call it the Internet Computing Architecture, by which Oracle means the three-tiers clients – be they PCs, thin client or telephones; the IMAP4/POP3, SMTP and LDAP-based connection software and at the bottom, the Oracle- based message store. It supports all the major e-mail applications, such as Eudora, Netscape, Microsoft and Lotus, in fact anything that supports IMAP4/POP3. Oracle is touting this product under the banner of unified messaging, because it enables users to check voice, e-mail and faxes from a single point, which it has been able to do for some time. It is aiming this part of the strategy at service providers, both of internet and telephony services. Remote administration is now done through a browser and client support has been added for 3Com Corp’s PalmPilot and Windows CE. A Java software development kit has been included and it still supports PL/SQL and Java and integrates with Oracle 8, which can serve as the message store, as you might expect. At present the telephone messaging support is limited to the short messaging system (SMS) for GSM phones, but Oracle is testing Tagged Text Markup Language (TTML), the Handheld Device Markup Language (HDML) and Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) and support for those will be added in the future. Oracle cites Telia AB as a customer using this technology as a unified messaging platform, but it rolled it out in January this year and announced its intentions in April of last year. And while that may go to show that this is a proven technology , it also goes to show that very little here is new.

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