Oracle Beehive – Next Next Generation of Collaboration software

Lucas Jellema

One of the major announcements during Charles Philips’ keynote: Oracle Beehive: integrated and secure collaboration platform.The successor to Oracle Collaboration Suite.Targeted at Enterprise Collaboration. And allegedly ‘built from scratch in 3 years’. The demo showed the Outlook Client running against the Beehive server. And not Outlook as we know it – Outlook extended with many collaboration features. Access to Workspaces in which teams collaborate on documents, presentations etc. In a workspace, members have access to joint resources, on line communication (IM/Chat) and on line conferencing. The demo included two clients working in a virtual collaborarion environment – jointly developing a Powerpoint presentation, both making changes. The Beehive software ensure bi-directional synchronization – changes on one client are rapidly synchronized among all members in the workspace. It looks cool!

However, at some point in time, Oracle Mail, Oracle Office, Oracle InterOffice and Oracle Collaboration Suite looked cool too. And neither of them was very successful in the market. What makes Beehive different? ….

Beehive is open, can be integrated with many different clients (including Outlook) and server components (including Active Directory). It was compared with Lotus Notes – only much more open. Beehives APIs are standards based (where applicable) and accessible using Java.

Beehive wants to address collaboration fragmentation – and challenge the Microsoft offering of Exchange Server, Sharepoint Server and Active Directory.Provides server infrastructure for Outlook: mail server, IM conversatons, Documents  (content management) and  Team Workspace.

The management console for Beehive – called Beekeeper – allows management of policies and includes a detailed Audit log.

The license costs for Beehive seem pretty reasonable (especially with the current $/Euro ratio): $120 per user per year. The software can be deployed on premise and is available through Oracle On Demand.

    Gartner says on Beehive: “Over the years, Oracle has had much success penetrating various markets such as database and integration technologies. In the collaboration sector, however, Oracle has consistently failed — it had an e-mail/calendar system in the 1990s, and most recently offered OCS. Both were unsuccessful due to a lack of market differentiation, and an installed base reluctant to switch suppliers.

It is logical for Oracle to want a piece of the collaboration market. Collaboration services are being increasingly woven into applications, allowing users to collaborate within the context of the business application. In addition, investments in e-mail, for example, can sell other Oracle infrastructure, such as databases and integration tools. Oracle also wants to thwart Microsoft’s effort to make Exchange, SharePoint and Office Communications Server the default suite of collaboration services in many companies. A successful collaboration strategy could increase the value of the Oracle business application portfolio via contextual collaboration, lead to add-on product sales and combat Microsoft’s hegemonic interests.

Oracle Beehive has some attractive characteristics, such as a consistent object model, tags, Outlook support and Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) workflows. But the company faces an uphill battle in the collaboration market. The business e-mail market has not seen a successful new entrant for 15 years, and most companies are well on their way to standardizing on a suite of collaboration services. Oracle has yet to define an unserved market niche for Oracle Beehive and clarify its positioning with respect to the WebCenter Web 2.0 tool, which includes overlapping collaboration capabilities.”

It seems that Beehive is not (yet) available for download on OTN. The documentation can be found there though.


Oracle Beehive on OTN

Gartner’s Report on Oracle Beehive
Oracle Beehive Datasheet


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