posted 31 Oct 2005 in Volume 9 Issue 3
Trend tracker: Oracle OpenWorld
By Chris Harris-Jones, research director, information management, Ovum
I spent three days at Oracle OpenWorld in September talking to senior executives about developments that have an impact on knowledge management. These cover a wide range of topics including collaboration, search and content management. Strong progress in these areas shows just how far Oracle is moving from its original stamping ground of databases.
The latest release of Oracle Collaboration Services 10g (OCS 10g) offers a substantial advance on the previous release. The most significant updates are the inclusion of workspaces and instant messaging. Workspaces provide a team environment for carrying out collaborative tasks and for managing content and activities. The instant-messaging functions include chat conferencing, web conferencing and voice chat, as well as presence facilities for individuals and groups. A range of other updates include improved calendaring and mobile access. This release raises Oracle’s game significantly. In terms of functions offered, OCS 10g is now at a level where it can compete directly with collaboration offerings from vendors such as
The new Content Services software was also finally released as part of OCS 10g after some delays. This was heavily reported last year under the code name of Tsunami and is a substantial development on the Oracle Files software, which had been delivering basic content-management services for some years. It delivers ‘content management for the rest of us’ and is targeted at that audience that needs middleweight content management – more than is delivered by Microsoft WSS but less than is provided by the heavy duty-functionality of the CM specialists like FileNet and
Oracle is placing considerably emphasis on developing its UltraSearch search technology that is already available through its portal. The software is now in beta test for an unbundled version to be known as Oracle Enterprise Search. The search engine delivers the expected functionality such as stemming, lexical analysis, a thesaurus and also has facilities for concept induction. It will be able to use knowledge bases and users will be able to add OWL and RDF ontologies – demonstration code will be delivered with the first release. Where HTML content is being searched, it will also be able to execute link analysis. The release of this software as a separate product has the potential to challenge the incumbent leaders of the search market such as Autonomy and Verity. However, at least in the early days, the software is likely to be restricted to existing Oracle users. Notwithstanding this, it could soon start to rival the traditional vendors in this space.
These updates all push Oracle much further into the world of unstructured content. The company’s biggest challenge will be to ensure that all these components can be mix-and-matched in the heterogeneous environment in most user organisations. There was considerable talk at the conference about openness and open standards, but only time and good user reference sites will show just how open and inter-operable these pieces of software can become.