Oracle Beehive collaboration software to be rolled into WebCenter

Oracle Beehive made a big splash at OpenWorld 2008, where company officials billed it as integrated collaboration software meant to compete with Exchange, Lotus and SharePoint. But the buzz is done buzzing.

Oracle Beehive’s sting wasn’t enough to wound its foes, so now the collaboration software that debuted two years ago will be rolled into software within the company’s WebCenter Suite development software.

In 2008, Oracle OpenWorld buzzed with the arrival of Oracle Beehive, which the company boasted was a three-year project built from scratch. It was introduced on stage by then-President Charles Phillips and two guys dressed like bees. One user remembers a 40-foot bee painted on the steps of the Moscone Center. Oracle billed the new product as an integration of collaboration tools such as email, IM and calendar software into one centrally administered platform.

But it didn’t work. Oracle Beehive is not necessarily dead, but moving it to WebCenter is an acknowledgment that Beehive by itself was competing heavily with Microsoft and IBM in the collaboration space – especially in regards to email – and losing, according to multiple analysts, partners and users. In particular, Oracle Beehive will be integrated into WebCenter Intelligent Collaboration, which is meant to connect business projects with the employees most knowledgeable of that project’s topic.

Oracle has not made an official announcement that it is rolling Beehive into WebCenter, and the company did not return requests for comment.

Scott Jenkins, CEO and managing director for The EBS Group, an Oracle partner in Lenexa, Kan., said he has about 60 customers who were on Oracle Collaboration Suite, the predecessor to Beehive. Only three plus The EBS Group upgraded to Beehive. Now, Jenkins said, his firm will have to guide them on whether to upgrade to WebCenter.

“With Oracle, they say they want to give customers choice,” Jenkins said. “Well, there are too many choices sometimes, and it’s not entirely clear to us and customers where they migrate to once a product suite is clearly heading toward its end of life. This is a confusing case because it went through the whole rebranding under Beehive.”

Jenkins said that Collaboration Suite and Beehive never really “got the momentum” Oracle desired in competing against Exchange.

“I think Beehive will gain more traction as collaborative components of WebCenter than it was getting on its own competing against Exchange or SharePoint,” he said.

One Oracle Beehive end user didn’t seem too concerned about the prospect of Beehive being rolled into WebCenter. Ty Sturdivant, CIO of Whirlwind Steel Buildings in Houston, said he was thus far happy with Beehive.

“We have used Oracle as our collaboration solution since it was Collaboration Suite and have been happy with the solution all along,” he said. “Oracle was very accommodating during the upgrade from Collaboration Suite to Beehive, so I am not concerned about a future upgrade.”

Rob Koplowitz, a Forrester analyst who covers collaboration software, said he would expect that Oracle will place less emphasis on Oracle Beehive and focus their collaboration efforts around WebCenter. Beehive as a standalone product was not working.

“At the center of the value proposition [of Beehive] was always to remove your email system, and that was just not that compelling,” he said. “If I was excited about Beehive but I had to think about replacing my email system, that is just a tough conversation.”

Koplowitz thinks that Oracle Beehive rolling into WebCenter would be a good move. It will work better within business projects than in trying to compete directly with Exchange, Lotus and SharePoint, where getting a foothold in the market is difficult to impossible.

“We have this concept of an information workplace that has multiple types of content and data in context for information workers,” he said. “These things should be integrated in context, and as Oracle goes down this path, they become an interesting vendor.”

Mark Fontecchio can be reached at [email protected].


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