Oracle is gearing up to launch a brand new portal technology in the last quarter of this year likely to be called Oracle Workplace Suite, I’ve learned.
The news was confirmed in an interview I had on Friday with David Keene, senior director of technology for Fusion Middleware in the UK.
The news of a new Oracle portal product may be seen as a sign that it is playing catch-up with BEA Systems after BEA acquired portal vendor Plumtree for $200m in August last year – certainly since then BEA has been able to claim that it is the market share leader in the portal space.
While Oracle already has a product in this space called simply Oracle Portal, Keene explained that it is really suited to building departmental portals, or intranet portals, that bring together various menu screens from different data sources, perhaps offering single sign on.
“Oracle Workplace Suite will be different,” Keene told me. “It will be more declarative thanks to its use of JavaServer Faces.”
JavaServer Faces is the standard Java-based web application framework that simplifies the development of user interfaces for Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) applications.
“Thanks to JavaServer Faces we will be able to mix and match standard web pages, live data sources and so on for more complex portal development,” Keene added. “We are also including various acquired technologies such as HotSip, which will make it far easier to integrate things like automatic VoIP calling, blogs, wikis and so on.”
HotSip was the Swedish Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) application server company that Oracle acquired in February this year. As well as a SIP server it had various applications in the messaging, telephony and conferencing spaces.
“With our existing Oracle Portal if you want to integrate VoIP you have to code that manually,” Keene explained. “With our J2EE portal, Workplace Suite, you will just be able to click on a phone number to initiate a VoIP call.”
So is this latest news a sign that Oracle is playing catch-up with BEA’s Plumtree portal technology? Actually no. Ironically, Plumtree’s portal technology – since renamed AquaLogic User Interaction – probably competed more closely with Oracle’s existing Oracle Portal product than the forthcoming Oracle Workplace Suite.
Oracle Portal and Plumtree were both aimed predominantly at intranet portals or departmental portals, though Plumtree’s portal does support both J2EE and .Net.
From what little information is available about Oracle Workplace Portal, it seems more likely that it will compete with BEA’s WebLogic Portal that BEA had long before its Plumtree acquisition.