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Oracle to Splash ECM Market with 'Tsunami'

It's no secret that Oracle has been considering a dip in the enterprise content management well, especially after companies like Microsoft , IBM and EMC made such a splash in the sector over the last year.

This week, research group Ovum revealed that the Oracle enterprise content management (ECM) project, code-named Tsunami, will launch by the end of the year.

According to Alan Pelz-Sharpe, vice president of software and services at Ovum, Oracle envisions Tsunami as a major upgrade to its Collaboration Suite, delivering functionality that scales to tens of thousands of seats.

Not only will it boost the Collaboration Suite Oracle has been trying to improve for so long, but it will help Oracle be more competitive with Microsoft in its data management business.

Pelz-Sharpe said Oracle is angling for a major piece of the unstructured data management (UDM) market, a part of ECM that covers the management of files, such as e-mails, spreadsheets and audio and video clips.

In a statement issued late Thursday, Oracle acknowledged that its applications division is looking to give its content management capabilities a boost.

"We have leveraged our expertise in the management of unstructured data to deliver a significant upgrade to our content management capabilities," said Greg Doherty, vice president, Oracle Collaboration Suite. "This offering will be made available in future releases of Oracle Collaboration Suite and illustrates our commitment to being a market leader in all areas of information management."

That Oracle wishes to be a leader in information management is no surprise. The company's core expertise is data management by way of its database technology.

Oracle, EMC, Microsoft and IBM see this space as a veritable cash cow, and many analysts agree. A number of compliance regulations from government agencies demand sensitive files such as health records be saved for a set number of years.

Pelz-Sharpe said Tsunami follows Microsoft's success with its SharePoint play, which he claimed has seen great success in the low and mid market with over 20 million seats currently deployed. Oracle, he said, is following Microsoft's SharePoint model rather than IBM's document management approach, opting for delivering UDM as infrastructure.

Not everyone is sold on Oracle's prospects. Butler Group analyst Susan Clarke called Tsunami "long overdue," noting that it should compete best with SharePoint, but that IBM and EMC are ahead of Oracle.

"For organizations that need full-blown ECM functionality with features such as records management to help them comply with the growing raft of regulations, one of the vendors with complete offerings such as EMC, or IBM will provide the functionality they require," Clarke told internetnews.com. "It is difficult to see where Oracle will be able to compete in this type of situation."

What is easy to see is why Oracle is so interested in this market, which Forrester Research said will be worth as much as $3.6 billion by 2006.