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Anne Stuart’s BPM in Action

Michael Dortch

The Big Mash-Up, Continued: Oracle Set to Get Companies Buzzin' About Beehive

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Oracle Corp.'s ginormous annual revival meeting, Oracle OpenWorld, started in San Francisco today. One of the things Oracle will be showcasing at the event is a new collaboration solution the company calls Beehive.

It's designed to sit alongside the Oracle WebCenter portal / "user interaction environment" and the company's Universal Content Management solution. However, you don't need either or both to use Beehive, which provides a communications and collaboration solution that sits atop Oracle's common infrastructure for functions ranging from secure enterprise search and database access (of course!) to business process management.

Beehive combines collaboration, social networking features, real-time conferencing, and shared workspace features such as calendar and task management. It does this in ways that offer, as Oracle put it in a briefing, "depth of features and breadth of functionality."

But the coolest part, from a Big Mash-Up standpoint, is that Beehive talks to a wide range of client options (yes, including Outlook, Windows Mobile, the iPhone, Apple Mail, and even RSS feeds). Beehive also talks to a number of servers (including, perhaps surprisingly to some, Microsoft Exchange), portals, applications, and identity and directory management alternatives. Beehive does this via open standards almost everywhere, making it both an interesting collaboration tool and perhaps an even more interesting platform for other applications.

The combination of rich collaboration features and tight integration with multiple other functions means that Beehive offers some pretty impressive features for security, support for audit and regulatory compliance, discovery for legal requirements, and process-driven collaboration. For example, Beehive integrates with Oracle's Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) Process Manager, making process-driven collaboration easy to implement and manage consistently. There's even an administration tool designed for businesspeople, not technologists, called "Beekeeper."

There are lots more features and details, of course - this is a blog, not a press kit or user manual, after all. But I can't help but think that the combination of features, interoperability, and modernity of technologies will make Beehive very much worth close inspection by a number of companies, large AND small. (Beehive is also available as an Oracle on Demand offering, something that could make pre-purchase tire-kicking very attractive, especially to smaller enterprises and those with tight budgetary constraints.)

The integration of horizontal collaboration tools with vertical-specific, run-the-company applications, processes, and resources represents a potentially giant step toward realization of that Big Mash-Up about which I and others keep yammering. This is particularly true regarding the ability to embrace all major forms of IT-enabled collaboration with enterprise security policies and business processes without major disruption to how business workers do their jobs. This laudable goal has so far been way more talk and hope than meaningful reality. Beehive, with Oracle and its ecosystem of partners and users, could change that for the better. Stay tuned, and if you check out Beehive, do let me know what you think, please.

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Business process management and optimization -- philosophies, policies, practices, and punditry.

Anne Stuart

I am the editor of ebizQ.

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