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Oracle claims ‘unprecedented’ interest in Collaboration Suite

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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Oracle Corp is claiming surprise at "unprecedented" levels of customer interest for its Collaboration Suite, saying the three-month-old product could outgrow its application server business,

writes Gavin Clarke

Preliminary interest in Collaboration Suite has surpassed that of the company's other software products, Oracle said yesterday. Driving interest is businesses' anger with messaging stalwart Microsoft Corp.

Speaking at Oracle's user conference in San Francisco, the company's veteran chief financial officer Jeff Henley told press and analysts: "We have never seen that much interest early on, traditionally you [only] get the early adopters."

Senior vice president and chief marketing officer Mark Jarvis added: "Typically when we launch a new product we have to explain it to customers. In the case of Collaboration Suite, customers have been calling us."

Henley claimed "hundreds" of customers are interested in demonstrations, while Jarvis said Oracle currently has 50 pilots of the suite in action.

Executives spoke as Oracle launched a second release of the suite. Collaboration Suite Release 2 features real-time communications, instant messaging (IM), online meetings and co-browsing. Also launched was a hosted version of the suite, Oracle Collaboration Outsourcing.

Oracle has offered some elements of the suite, such as Oracle e-mail, for some years, but is only now attempting to break the messaging and collaboration duopoly of IBM and Microsoft. Support for IM and real-time collaboration, puts Oracle on more of an even keel against the companies.

Fueling Oracle's desire to take on Microsoft especially is the perception that a growing chink is opening in its competitor's armour. Microsoft customers are seeking alternatives to Windows applications and operating systems, as many are unhappy that the company introduced its new licensing model this summer.

Called Licensing 6.0, that model is regarded as more expensive for many customers and garnered additional hostility because it was introduced by Microsoft during the depths of a recession.

Microsoft risks further alienating enterprises with the scheduled retirement of its Exchange 5.5 server. "There are a lot of customers upset with Microsoft," Jarvis said.

He predicted Oracle could successfully convert growing levels of customer dissatisfaction into business wins, and potentially outstrip the size of its Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) application server business.

"Our application server launched two years ago and we have 15,000 customers, BEA Systems has 13,000 customers. The collaboration suite is going to be as big if not bigger than the application server," he said.

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