Monday, September 22, 2008

Oracle Collaboration Suite 10g Product Center: RIP...

It appears I owe Mike Gotta $.07 -- when we were colleagues in Burton Group's Collaboration and Content Strategies (CCS) service (~2005 - 2007), I wrote a report in which I explained that I considered Oracle a strong contender in the enterprise collaboration market, poised for a strong #3 position behind IBM and Microsoft. Mike didn't agree, so we bet on it (my standard bet is $.07 -- kind of a long story...).

My primary reason for asserting Oracle Collaboration Suite (OCS) was a contender was due to my sense that the enterprise communication/collaboration market was not optional for Oracle -- e.g., since every Microsoft SharePoint customer deploys SQL Server (on which SharePoint is built), and many IBM Lotus customers deploy WebSphere and DB2 in conjunction with Lotus products such as Quickr and Connections, being a non-starter in enterprise collaboration obviously had rather dire implications for Oracle's database management business, not just potential collaboration and content management opportunities.

OCS was at least Oracle's third major attempt to compete in the enterprise collaboration market. The first major attempt I'm aware of, called Oracle Documents, if I remember correctly, was about to launch in 1994, when Oracle instead opted to enter into a short-lived strategic relationship with Lotus Development Corp. Oracle Documents got shot shortly before it was expected to launch, in favor of the Oracle/Lotus relationship -- Oracle placed a big bet on Notes instead.

After IBM's hostile take-over of Lotus in mid-1995, Oracle took another run at the collaboration market with Oracle InterOffice, a product that didn't do well and was pulled from the market after a year or two. Oracle continued to offer some related products such as Oracle Mail, and a calendaring/scheduling product (based on its Steltor acquisition), but those products weren't prominent on the competitive radar for IBM or Microsoft.

Oracle Collaboration Suite was the next broad attempt to compete in the enterprise collaboration market, and it was a very ambitious offering, representing an attempt to compete in enterprise messaging, async collaboration, and a variety of other communication/collaboration domains. It failed to put a dent in the universe, although Oracle asserted it had several successful customer case studies -- many of them in the price-sensitive government and education domains.

I wrote a Burton Group report about enterprise collaboration a few years ago, projecting that Oracle had a shot with OCS -- and certainly a competitive imperative -- to successfully compete with IBM and Microsoft in enterprise communication/collaboration. Mike Gotta disagreed, but I was the CCS research director at the time, and I went ahead with the report.

I was right about the Oracle competitive imperative part, but I was wrong about OCS; the product was quietly retired today today, replaced by Oracle Beehive, which I'll describe in another post.

Tangent: I am no longer a Burton Group employee -- it had nothing to do with my assorted debates with Mike Gotta (which I've always enjoyed, and from which I always learn a lot), nor did it have anything to do with the controversial ODF/Open XML report I published earlier in 2008 (which, in hindsight, already seems almost quaintly conservative, although it caused quite a blogosphere/etc. storm at the time). It was simply time for me to move on, after a very productive ~five-year run at Burton Group, and I'm now an independent software industry analyst/consultant, focusing on collaboration and information architecture topics. If you'd like more info on that transition, please contact me as pbokelly [at] okellyinc [dot] com.

Oracle Collaboration Suite 10g Product Center

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