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OpenWorld 08 Oracle has promised increased research and development to maintain a growing software stack, while announcing updates to its collaboration, tools, and databases.

President Charles Phillips, opening OpenWorld in San Francisco, California, Monday committed Oracle to spend $3bn in pure R&D in fiscal 2009, compared to $2.7bn last year.

Phillips promised cash would go into "products you own and use everyday" but didn't talk about whether there would be further technology and corporate acquisitions - acts that have vastly increased the number of products Oracle must support. Oracle has spent $33m in five years on more than 50 deals.

Oracle's president noted the spending spree has doubled its number of employees, hitting 85,000.

Oracle has, in the past, committed to continued R&D for software its acquired, through its Applications Unlimited strategy.

In an annual OpenWorld show opener devoid of big news, though, it was largely bread-and-butter Oracle products that dominated the headlines as the curtain went up. Phillips was joined by executive vice president of Oracle product development Chuck Rozwat to jointly announce the company's second collaboration environment - a collaboration server called Beehive (not to be confused with the former BEA Systems' Beehive open-source development framework, which is gently being let go in the Eclipse community). Oracle already had Oracle Collaboration Suite 10g.

Beehive provides email, instant messenger, calendar, and team workspaces along with auditing capabilities - pretty much the Oracle Collaboration Suite 10g checklist with some Web 2.0 and enterprise capabilities thrown in.

As when it launched Collaboration Suite in 2002 against Microsoft's Exchange and Lotus Notes, Oracle is again promising integration: unified storage through - you guessed it - a single Oracle database rather than different databases, and a single set of Oracle security and policy tools, and directory server to administer users. Development is through Java, web services and BPEL.

Collaboration Suite has had a difficult history. The current Collaboration Suite 10g - which added IM and voice over IP - was delayed by up to a year, as Oracle had to build its content management system.

Rozwat promised "very tight co-existence" with a number of productivity systems - chiefly Microsoft Exchange and Cisco Call Manager. He said there’d be the ability to pull in mails from Outlook and PowerPoint presentations, archive IM conversations, and store sound files.

Rozwat did not explain why you'd want to dump your existing email or IM client or server, or - indeed - Oracle Collaboration Suite. He said simply Beehive would solve "collaboration fragmentation".

Almost a year and a half after first previewing the next version of its Java integrated development environment (IDE), Oracle used OpenWorld to announce JDeveloper 11g and its foundational Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF) 11g will be available "soon".

The duo are expected to support Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE) 5.0, tight integration with BEA's WebLogic application server (now called Oracle WebLogic Server), 150 AJAX-enabled and Java Server Faces (JSF) 1.2. rich client components, and support for JAX-WS-compliant web services.

Also announced was version 12.1 of Oracle's E-Business Suite. Features include pre-built dashboards and scenario modeling targeting supply chain management, manufacturing, and HR. Rozwat said 12.1 would have "broader appeal" than version 12, released last year. ®

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