Oracle tries again with messaging wares

Oracle Corp. last week announced back-end collaboration software that the company hopes will compete with Microsoft Corp.’s Exchange.

Oracle Collaboration Suite includes ready-made links to Oracle’s 9i databases, unified messaging and calendaring technology from newly acquired Steltor Inc. in Montreal.

The move is partly intended to prevent Microsoft from controlling the messaging market and being able to dictate how Oracle software will interoperate with Exchange, said Rene Bonvanie, vice president of product marketing at Oracle.

“I think . . . Lotus is irrelevant in this market,” Bonvanie said. “If we don’t stand up, Microsoft will gobble up everything, including Lotus, the way they did to Novell a few years ago,” said Bonvanie, referring to GroupWise, a messaging product from Novell Inc.

“At the end of the day, two companies will battle it out for predominance, and we think that we have a very serious shot at this,” said Bonvanie.

‘Heavy Lifting’

Not surprisingly, Microsoft and Lotus Software Group executives were somewhat dismissive of the announcement.

“We’ve been in this market for five-, six-plus years. We’ve done a lot of heavy lifting,” said Chris Baker, lead product manager for Exchange at Microsoft. “So they really have, maybe at best, 1.0 products.”

Baker added that Oracle’s offering may have strengths that Microsoft doesn’t, but it’s not a full-featured product. “It’s very much a