SAN FRANCISCO - Oracle has postponed delivery of a major update to its Collaboration Suite until mid-2005. The update will add instant messaging and voice-over-IP capabilities, and offer content management features, the company said Wednesday.
Called Collaboration Suite 10g, the update will come as much as a year later than originally planned. Oracle first indicated it would ship the product in the first half of 2004, but later pushed that back to the second half of the year.
Oracle attributes the latest delay to its work on the content management functionality, which it says has attracted a lot of customer interest.
"We delayed it a little so we can have a robust content management offering as part of Collaboration Suite 10g," said Rob Koplowitz, a senior director of product marketing at Oracle. "What overwhelmed us was this immense demand for content management functionality."
This third release of Collaboration Suite is intended to make the Oracle product a stronger rival to Microsoft Corp.'s Exchange and IBM Corp.'s Lotus Domino, which dominate the corporate e-mail server market. Oracle sees its new content management functionality as its trump card in the battle for customers.
"With Sarbanes-Oxley and a lot of other regulation, folks really just want to get their arms around the explosion of data," Koplowitz said.
The content management functionality in Collaboration Suite 10g is designed to help manage unstructured data. The functionality is based on Oracle Files 10g, an update to the Oracle's file server product, and will include policy-based document management features such as automatic versioning, security and enforced attribution, Oracle said.
By adding content management capabilities to Collaboration Suite, Oracle is extending its competition with Microsoft to Windows SharePoint Services. This could be an interesting battle, because Oracle offers a centralized data repository, said Mike Gotta, a senior vice president and principal analyst at Meta Group Inc.
SharePoint allows users in an organization to set up Web sites as collaborative spaces. With increasing regulatory requirements, unmanaged use of SharePoint can create concerns about document management and records management, Gotta said.
"I think that is an area Oracle will likely attack. ... They can sell the senior decision makers and the folks involved with compliance and risk on the centralized information management underpinnings of their product," he said.
Of the other enhancements in Collaboration Suite, the instant messaging functionality is overdue. Industry insiders had expected instant messaging to be part of the second release of Collaboration Suite in June last year. Oracle's rivals Microsoft and IBM already sell instant messaging products.
In Collaboration Suite 10g, Oracle also offers a new Web-based client, improved support for wireless devices and the ability to integrate collaboration into an enterprise portal, among other enhancements, the company said.
Oracle launched its offensive against Microsoft and IBM in September 2002 with the first release of Collaboration Suite. The product was updated in June 2003 to include Web conferencing.