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Oracle's Collaboration Suite Aims at Sharepoint

The long-awaited update to Oracle's Collaboration Suite, version 10g, is now available, representing the company's first big step into enterprise content management (ECM).

Collaboration Suite 10g, which previously went under the code name Tsunami, is the third generation of the product and includes two new features: Content Services 10g and Oracle Workspaces.

Officials said the update tackles and addresses the problems casual users have encountered with managing the unstructured data like spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations on the network with co-workers.

Content Services is the successor to Oracle Files and was designed with service-oriented architectures in mind, said Rich Buchheim, Oracle content product and strategy senior director. This way, information can be stored once and used in a variety of ways throughout the enterprise, whether through an application or browser.

"It really is, if not the first, certainly one of the first content management solutions that can be truly deployed across the entire enterprise," he said.

The suite ties that structured and unstructured data along with a number of collaboration tools through Workspace to make it easier for customers to work together, whether they are in the cubicle down the hall of company headquarters or at a remote office in another country.

It ties together documents with calendaring, instant messaging, e-mails, web conferencing and discussion forums and is tightly linked with its other software products -- in this case Oracle Database 10g and Oracle Application Server 10g -- to provide a centralized area for all company documents.

That provides simplicity over Microsoft's SharePoint Server, which Oracle is targeting as its primary competitor in the space, according to Bob Shimp, Oracle vice president of technology marketing.

Rather than individual SharePoint servers separated by project teams, he said, everything is located under one Oracle database that ensures everyone on the network is using the same information while reducing business risks like regulatory compliance, security and reliability.

"We're going to go quite aggressively against Microsoft SharePoint, we're going to go out there and take this market and convince our customers that they don't want to have these highly distributed systems," Shimp said.

Oracle finds itself coming late to the ECM space. There are already a number of ECM providers with established products, companies like IBM , EMC , Interwoven and FileNet .

Officials doesn't see it that way, however, saying they will be working from the IT departments of existing customers and out into the marketplace as the suite gains popularity.

Cost for the suite will run companies $60 per named user, or $45 for individual components of the suite, for a perpetual license. Support and maintenance costs are figured separately.