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Oracle's 'Beehive' Approach to Market Share

SAN FRANCISCO -- (UPDATED) Oracle's got a new stinger to use against Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) market share with Exchange Server and SharePoint products.

It's called Oracle Beehive, which Oracle's president Charles Phillips described as a collaboration server that runs on Windows, Linux and Unix and supports third party applications.

Oracle Beehive has "all the functions for communications -- chat, e-mail, voice mail, and co-ordination of calendars and other collaboration tools," said Chuck Rozwat, Oracle's executive vice president, product development.

"E-mails and calendars and other communication and collaboration applications use their own databases, security mechanisms and have their own way of identifying users, and Beehive integrates all these together," Rozwat said during a keynote at the OracleWorld conference here today.

"You have centralized user identification, policy management, security management across all products, and it's all on one server," he told a packed hall of conference attendees.

But if you think this product is from the same Beehive assets owned by BEA, which Oracle now owns, Oracle begs to differ.

Oracle spokesperson Greg Lunsford told InternetNews.com that there were two separate projects named Beehive. "We spent three years on our Beehive project and it's totally separate from BEA's, which is an open source project," he said. "Our Beehive has no technology from BEA at all."

Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) purchased BEA in January of this year for $8.5 billion.

During remarks here, Rozwat and Phillips clearly indicated Oracle Beehive is aimed at Microsoft Exchange Server and SharePoint Server. "You can share events and calendars with Microsoft Exchange, so you can move to Beehive in incremental steps," Rozwat said. Oracle uses Beehive in-house, and "instead of having hundreds of SharePoint Servers, we use a handful of Beehive servers," Phillips said.

Like Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, Beehive has a unified messaging feature. It also offers a Workspace feature into which all files and folders relevant to a user or a team, ranging from e-mails to internet messaging to voice mails, can be stored. Rozwat said Beehive works with any client, "Outlook, Apple, (NASDAQ: AAPL) Mozilla, and different open source calendars," and has an open development platform so users can use industry standard development tools to build applications.

Users can share documents, e-mails, instant messages and calendars, and system administration is easy. The True Delete feature lets administrators delete all documents in a workspace, even those stored on a user's hard drive.

Beehive's workspace access control feature lets administrators revoke users' access rights and privileges easily, ending the problem of orphaned accounts, a major security hole. All actions are logged for easy audit, a critical requirement for compliance.

Beehive's allocation of a single identity to all users on the server across all applications is another key issue in governance, risk and compliance (GRC). Many enterprises are leveraging Microsoft Active Directory for this, and for group policy management. Because Beehive works with Active Directory and other third party identity management applications you can leverage your existing applications, Phillips said.

Phillips also announced the first update to Oracle 11g. This version, called 11.1.07, has an optimized database configuration to handle up to 100 terabytes of data, and has an in-memory database cache. In-memory databases are up to 10 times faster than conventional databases.

Oracle also unveiled E-business Suite release 12.1, which adds new capabilities for human resources, the supply chain and other features, as well as Siebel 8.1.

One other item unveiled was My Oracle Support, a new support portal that combines MetaLink, Oracle's support Website, with configuration and patch management, personalized for customers' computing environment.

Updates prior version to clarify that BEA's Beehive is not the same as Oracle's Beehive.