Blogger: Craig Roth
Oracle announced its release of Beehive 1.5 today. They are hoping that a technology refresh of the Beehive collaboration assets (along with additional assets acquired along with BEA) can give Oracle another shot at the collaboration market after the moribund Oracle Collaboration Server has fizzled.
The announcement comes at a good quiet spot between IBM's collaboration announcements at Lotusphere in January and Microsoft's announcements on SharePoint 2010 that will probably come to a peak at their conference in October. Likewise, its most attractive feature is that its platform and standards offer an alternative to a Microsoft stack (Windows Server, SQL Server, SharePoint) and an IBM stack (Notes/Domino and/or Quickr+Connections with WebSphere). Beehive offers more standards than you can shake a stick at (although I don't recommend shaking sticks at beehives generally): WebDAV, IMAP/SMTP, JSR 170 for content repository access, XMPP for IM and presence, LDAP or AD for directory, and JMX for management. You can use Solaris, Windows Server, or Linux for the serve and any development tool desired. From a technology point of view its appeal is likely to be based on architectural decisions about what standards and stack an organization wants to embrace (or stay away from).
But technology aside, the key for Oracle (as always) is whether they can utilize their channel to sell this stuff and whether organizations can be persuaded to pay real money for it after previous false starts. In the past, Oracle hasn't had much voice left to talk about collaboration and portal after yelling about database and ERP. But since the Stellent acquisition, content management has been a bright spot for them and I think it has changed some minds.
Personally, I want to see the collaboration market stay competitive. End users win when vendors compete hard on features, quality, and pricing. Lately it seems like Microsoft SharePoint has gotten a lion's share of attention from organizations. Microsoft has been the main attraction at this tournament and I'm glad to see Oracle showing up to play. IBM Lotus still feels to me like they haven't shown up to the tournament and are setting up a parallel exhibition match for the same sport in another part of town. They didn't mention SharePoint by name in the Lotusphere main tent (although it was clear who they were talking about and Jive got a mention). But as an analyst I'm like an unaligned spectator at a sporting event - you just want to see a diverse set of skillful challengers compete really well and bring up the level of play.