Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Some initial Oracle Beehive details

This post summarizes some of the details I've picked up about Oracle Beehive at Oracle OpenWorld this week.

I'm frankly a bit surprised there hasn't been more of a buzz (that's the last bee-related reference for the rest of this post, I promise...) in the collaboration-focused parts of the press and blogosphere about Beehive over the last couple days, since Beehive represents what will become, if successful, the most significant enterprise communication/collaboration threat the current market leaders -- IBM and Microsoft -- have seen in many years. I'll share some speculation and projections in subsequent posts, and will keep this post focused on sharing some high-level Beehive details. Check this Oracle page if you want to explore official data sheets, product documentation, etc.

Here's the big-picture view of Oracle's new line-up for "Enterprise 2.0" communication, collaboration, and content management:


As the diagram suggests, Oracle is leading with a trio of integrated (although also available stand-alone) products, all building on a common set of infrastructure services:

  • Oracle WebCenter is an attempt to consolidate all of Oracle's many portal-related products into a single portal-centric framework and user interaction environment.
  • Oracle Beehive is positioned as a collaboration services offering, but it also includes a variety of communication and coordination services.
  • Oracle Universal Content Management started with the many products from Oracle's Stellent acquisition -- including, for example, web content management, records management, and information rights management.

Here's a more detailed view of Beehive's capabilities:


Beehive was developed by Oracle -- i.e., it is not based on acquired companies/products -- over the last 3 - 4 years (although at least a few services, e.g., the web conferencing parts, are apparently based on recycled/revised Oracle Collaboration Suite resources). It starts with an elaborate communication/collaboration/coordination-focused object model, building on Oracle Database for information management (database, content, files, etc.).

Beehive is also designed to be a productive part of the broader enterprise landscape, as suggested in the following diagram:


Beehive supports many communication/collaboration/content-related (real and de facto) industry standards, and Oracle has also built plug-ins/adapters/etc. for popular enterprise clients such as Microsoft Outlook. The Outlook add-in is in some ways similar to the way Microsoft makes SharePoint document libraries accessible through Outlook, but all Beehive artifacts are managed in an underlying Oracle Database instance, optionally with Oracle's information rights management services.

Beehive costs $120 per user, and it includes limited editions of Oracle Database and Oracle's BPEL-based workflow engine (and can also scale-up/out by fully leveraging Oracle's RAC etc., for enterprises that already have advanced Oracle deployments). It's a user-based licensing model; there is no separate price for the server elements. Current Oracle Collaboration Suite customers can upgrade OCS licenses to Beehive licenses at no charge. Beehive is available now for on-premises deployments, and Oracle also announced plans to make Beehive available as part of its Oracle On Demand (software-as-a-service) suite, but didn't specify availability or pricing details.

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