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Oracle bets business data on OpenSocial

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OpenWorld They risk exposing personal and corporate data to attack, but that isn't stopping Oracle from wanting to employ Google's Gears and OpenSocial in the next version of its business software.

Oracle has outlined plans for CRM OnDemand version 15 that appear to rely on Google Gears to run data inside desktop gadgets without firing up the CRM application itself.

Anthony Lye, Oracle senior vice president of CRM OnDemand, also told OpenWorld delegates Tuesday "we want to put our applications on the internet" running as gadgets inside iGoogle that pull in data from companies' corporate portals.

Lye re-iterated Oracle's recent support for Google's OpenSocial, the snake oil API that'll magically integrate all social networks and corporate systems, by saying OpenSocial would "bring the information from the internet to applications".

As with shipment dates there was no real commitment on features, but there was plenty of talk about "potential". This being OpenWorld 2007, the lack of product specifics has become par for the course in regard to the portfolio of Fusion tools, middleware, and application products that Oracle believes represent some of the most important software in its 30 year history.

"There's enormous opportunity to take Google's technologies and include Google's technologies in our applications," Lye said.

Never mind that Google's OpenSocial API was hacked within four hours, or that security experts are advising corporate users to run separate browsers to access the internet and corporate systems for fear of exposing both personal and application data to hackers using cross-site scripting attacks that exploit weaknesses in AJAX and leading browsers.

Thomas Kurian, senior vice president of Oracle server technologies, dismissed concerns saying Oracle Fusion users would be identified and authenticated using separate domains. "There is no issue with the ability to access information form the internet and extranet with regard to the way we are adopting Web 2.0 technologies in Oracle applications," Kurian said.

Joining Oracle to ram home the OpenSocial buy-in, and sing the Web 2.0 hit Why can't enterprise applications be more like consumer applications, was head of Google developer programs Vic Gundotra.

"Shouldn't enterprise customers do the same thing [as consumers]," Gundotra implored while explaining the importance of OpenSocial. "[OpenSocial] is also important for developers because there's a standardization on one open gadget - you can have very animated gadgets that can plug into that application."

In reality, OpenSocial needs developers more than vice versa, to help patch the security holes and tidy up code that's been described as a mess.

According to the OpenWorld demo, though, OnDemand 15 will be awfully cool - more powerful than iTunes and twice as useful because it's actually used in business, not for wasting time listening to music.

Oh, and for extra measure, the interface has been described as "gorgeous" by one analyst, according to Oracle's senior vice president of application development Ed Abbo on stage with Lye. Which is a relief, because no one can recognize and validate a thing of beauty quicker than a tech industry analyst.

Digging into the slideware, Oracle's new software will let you search corporate PCs and servers for information like useful PowerPoint preos, which will be user rated, of course, for maximum utility, and that will be returned and display just like your album covers in iTunes. There was also talk of presence, tagging, and ranking for things such as suppliers. ®

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