Oracle's Beehive: Collaboration Software that Plays Well with Others

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So, what's the buzz about Beehive, the latest iteration of Oracle's Collaboration Suite? (Groan. Just wanted to get the dreadfully obvious play on the product name out of the way first thing.)


Based on commentary written following its introduction at yesterday's Oracle OpenWorld, it's all over the board. While Oracle is trying to position it as a Sharepoint-killer, not all observers see it that way.


ZDNet's Oliver Marks gave Beehive props for its ability to integrate with software from SAP and other competitors, its Web services that can run on different server platforms, a unified API that allows it to communicate with open source collaboration environments, and a focus on creating strong audit trails for business communications, which eases regulatory compliance. However, he wrote that "Oracle's claim this is 'enterprise collaboration' is a stretch," thanks to many still-missing elements, such as videoconferencing.


InformationWeek's Roger Smith liked what he saw at OpenWorld, mentioning a security feature called Information Rights Management that employs encryption to manage content even when it's stored outside server-side repositories and that will soon be fully integrated with Beehive. Why all of this emphasis on security? Hmm, could it be because security remains one of the primary bugaboos for companies reluctant to adopt Web 2.0 technologies?


One of Beehive's key advantages, opines Ovum SVP David Mitchell, is "a firm SOA foundation" that allows Beehive to be integrated into other enterprise applications so that collaboration can become a central part of other work rather than a standalone interaction. This seemingly goes a long way toward solving a problem mentioned to me by CMS Watch founder Tony Byrne in our July interview. He said:

... A lot of these tools are a self-contained universe where you have a set of tags that allow you to tag information within the system but you can't tag any information outside the system. It's a hard problem, but there's also a sense that, if you're Microsoft or IBM, you want to own the whole environment and you wonder, "Why would anyone want to use products other than ours?" The reality is, though, that people work with a variety of different tools. What makes this more interesting is that we see vendors across the board looking to socialize their existing applications. So we have a very disintegrated landscape right now. ...