Oracle Beehive Gets One Honey of an Upgrade

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Troy Dreier Contributor

If you haven’t found the ideal collaboration suite for your large organization, you’re going to want to take a hard look at Oracle Beehive 1.5. This recent release makes the package far more comprehensive and easy to use.

Beehive’s strength is its ability to gather together a wide range of communications technologies — such as e-mail, instant messaging, Web conferencing, and more — into one package where co-workers can easily collaborate however they choose. The first version of the product launched late last year, offering a unified view across several different technologies.

Beehive brings IT into the equation in a way that rarely happens in most companies. According to David Gilmour, senior vice president for collaboration technologies at Oracle, individual users often load their own collaboration programs and IT doesn’t know what’s installed. Beehive puts IT in a central position, delivering top-notch tools yet offering information management solutions for IT.

The 1.5 release introduces a major new component, a browser-based team workspace client. Since in includes a homepage, document library, a wiki-centric environment, discussion groups, and micro-blogging, it’s everything a team needs to start collaborating instantly.

Setting up a Beehive workspace is simple, says Gilmour, who’s quick to point out that it doesn’t require setting up a whole site like SharePoint does. IT can control application access, determining which apps users will see. Beehive delivers mail and messaging tools, team collaboration applications, and synchronous collaboration tools.

Highlights of the 1.5 release include the ability to see your folders on your desktop, no matter which desktop you’re on. With Windows Explorer extensions, Beehive will now store your online files and folders on your desktop allowing you to work on them when you’re offline. When you login from your home computer, you’ll see the same files on your desktop. You can stop carrying your laptop between work and home: the files will meet you when you login from any computer.

The suite now includes a voice chat feature, so that people collaborating on a project in real-time can talk online rather than dialing into a conference line. One feature that IT will like is that the Outlook extensions are more robust, allowing for an easier migration experience, and the overall installation is simpler.

Beehive is available in three models: as a licensed, installed product; on demand; or as software as a service (SAAS). Whichever you prefer, your first step should be to try the free trial available on the Beehive site. If you want to go ahead with it, call Oracle’s phone center first for deployment advice. You might want to migrate your team section by section. You can also choose which parts of Beehive to make available. For example, you can use the team collaboration section, notes Gilmour, but leave your users on Exchange.

A typical Beehive installation is in the thousands or tens of thousands or users. Each install comes with a copy of Oracle Database and the middleware you’ll need to get started. Once you’ve pointed the program at your LDAP directory and customized user permissions, you’re pretty much done. The browser-based programs run on AJAX and require no training.

“Beehive is the first unified platform for collaboration designed from the very beginning specifically for enterprises,” says Gilmour. Give it a try and see if it makes your teams more productive.

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