Blog dedicated to Oracle Applications (E-Business Suite) Technology; covers Apps Architecture, Administration and third party bolt-ons to Apps

Friday, June 20, 2008

Oracle Beehive

I came across Oracle Beehive while searching for something completely different. The term raised my curiosity and I googled for it. This is how Oracle defines it:

Oracle Beehive provides an integrated set of collaboration services built on a single, scalable, open, and enterprise-class collaboration platform. Beehive allows users to access their collaborative information through familiar clients while enabling IT to consolidate collaborative infrastructure and implement people-centric applications with a centrally managed, secure, and compliant environment built on Oracle technology.

The above description is so broad you don't get a feel of what it is. So I went ahead and read their white paper. Here's what I could extract from it:

Beehive provides:
• An integrated collaborative application with Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office integration
• An integrated user experience accessed through familiar desktop tools
• A unified collaborative platform
• An enterprise-ready infrastructure

That still doesn't give me a feel to what is Beehive. So I read on further. This link tells me that Beehive has:

1. Events and Policies : 400 business events, such as delivering an email to an inbox
2. Workflow: integrated with Oracle BPEL Process Manager
3. Web Services:
4. Standards Support: IMAP and SMTP to access email, WebDAV and JCR to access documents

They have touted Beehive allowing "True Collaboration". This is what they say in the white paper:

True Collaboration is not about individual tools, a wiki, a forum, a central store for data, a portal or even building a complicated social network. True Collaboration goes beyond even building enterprise or group knowledge. True Collaboration is about collaborative knowledge – the knowledge that is a result of teams working together in context.

I still don't have the information an Architect would like to have to understand what exactly is Beehive, but I am reading on. I finally turned to the installation guide. This is where they have the kind of information I am seeking. I found the Beehive high level Arch diagram:

I can now make out what they have built. Oracle has cleverly used its pet technologies of Database and Application Servers to connect various other technologies in the collaboration space. This link will give you more details about the above architecture.

In terms of features, Oracle Beehive provides the full range of collaborative services for enterprise users, including:
  • Time management
  • Content and document management
  • Task management
  • Instant messaging
  • E-mail
  • Voicemail
  • Discussion forums
  • Online presence
  • Contact management
  • Mobile device support
Here's something I found from Gartner about Beehive:

On 8 May 2008, Oracle introduced to market Oracle Beehive, an integrated collaboration suite
with e-mail/calendar, team workspaces, instant messaging and other collaboration services. The
initial release is intended for Oracle Collaboration Suite (OCS) users, with a wider launch
expected later in 2008.

Over the years, Oracle has had much success penetrating various markets such as database and
integration technologies. In the collaboration sector, however, Oracle has consistently failed — it
had an e-mail/calendar system in the 1990s, and most recently offered OCS. Both were
unsuccessful due to a lack of market differentiation, and an installed base reluctant to switch

It is logical for Oracle to want a piece of the collaboration market. Collaboration services are
being increasingly woven into applications, allowing users to collaborate within the context of the
business application. In addition, investments in e-mail, for example, can sell other Oracle
infrastructure, such as databases and integration tools. Oracle also wants to thwart Microsoft's
effort to make Exchange, SharePoint and Office Communications Server the default suite of
collaboration services in many companies. A successful collaboration strategy could increase the
value of the Oracle business application portfolio via contextual collaboration, lead to add-on
product sales and combat Microsoft's hegemonic interests.

Oracle Beehive has some attractive characteristics, such as a consistent object model, tags,
Outlook support and Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) workflows. But the company
faces an uphill battle in the collaboration market. The business e-mail market has not seen a
successful new entrant for 15 years, and most companies are well on their way to standardizing
on a suite of collaboration services. Oracle has yet to define an unserved market niche for Oracle
Beehive and clarify its positioning with respect to the WebCenter Web 2.0 tool, which includes
overlapping collaboration capabilities.

• Non-OCS customers: To avoid the possibility of being saddled with an orphaned
product suite, refrain from evaluating Beehive for adoption until it shows signs of
sustained market success.

• OCS customers: Examine Oracle Beehive while engaging Oracle in discussions on an
OCS obsolescence program and an orderly transistion to Beehive.

• "Person-to-Person Interaction Emerges as the 'Process of Me'” — Application support
for business processes is evolving slowly away from the enterprise view of processes to
encompass an individual's need as a participant in many processes. By Yvonne
Genovese, Jeff Comport and Simon Hayward

• "No News Is Bad News for Oracle's Collaboration Suite” — In 2006, Gartner advised
prospective buyers of OCS to exercise caution until Oracle demonstrated more
Publication Date: 14 May 2008/ID Number: G00158030

I found Oracle Beehive Mobile Interop Lab which looks like a test implementation of some functionalities provided in Oracle Beehive.


Anonymous said...

I read your comment and I sitll don't know what Oracle Beehive actually does.

Vikram Das said...

I realize that the post is incomplete without explaining what is the tangible benefit of Beehive. I have updated it with the information you seek:

In terms of features, Oracle Beehive provides the full range of collaborative services for enterprise users, including:

Time management
Content and document management
Task management
Instant messaging
Discussion forums
Online presence
Contact management
Mobile device support

The important thing to see here is that all the technologies above are not created by Oracle from scratch, but it has cleverly used its own technologies to create a framework which call these services developed by other companies.

- Vikram

Anonymous said...

Is this not just a rebranded Oracle Collaboration Suite? If so, it has some serious shortcomings in the enterprise space especially w.r.t integrating with MS applications

Vikram Das said...

Hi Anonymous,

Looks like it is. I have included some more information in the post which I found from a Gartner Research report.

- Vikram

Naina said...

Does the content and document management successfully link with Oracle's Universal Content Manager (aka Stellant WCM) application which is now being included in the oracle suite of apps for document and records managaement? If so how good are the interfaces?
Any views on this would be helpful.

Vikram Das said...

Hi Naina,

Here's what I could find

Oracle UCM was briefly mentioned as ECM offerening and “add-on” capability that WebCenter framework will leverage. Details on how Oracle UCM will fit into overall Fusion middleware picture were not provided

However, on further searching I found Oracle Beehive Licensing document on
which says:

Oracle Beehive includes the following features:
Package Included Functionality
Oracle Beehive Services for Mail, Calendar, Instant
Messaging/Presence, Tasks, Documents, Team
Workspaces, Search, Discussions; Web Services and
Standard Protocol Access for E-mail, Instant
Messaging/Presence, Calendar, Document Access;
Co-Existence support for Microsoft Exchange,
Oracle Universal Content Management (UCM),
Oracle Universal Records Management (URM),
Oracle Secure Enterprise Search (SES); Integrated
Client for Microsoft Outlook and Web; Mobile
Messaging; Voicemail & Fax

Note: This package includes restricted-use licenses of Oracle
Database (Enterprise Edition), Oracle Partitioning, Oracle Application
Server (Enterprise Edition), and Oracle BPEL Process Manager solely
for the purpose of running Oracle Beehive.

Which means UCM is part and parcel of Oracle Beehive.