Oracle lays out content management strategy

Oracle Corp. Wednesday unveiled two tools to provide users of its database with content and records management capabilities.

The vendor has previously focused on how to manage structured data. Now, with the addition of Oracle Content Database (DB) and Oracle Records Database (DB), Oracle will provide software that enables its customers and partners to manage unstructured content.

In defining unstructured data, Oracle talked about documents created using Microsoft Corp.’s Office desktop applications suite, PDF (portable document format) files, document images and graphics.

Oracle President Charles Phillips described the company’s new tools as providing “base content management for the masses” during an event at the vendor’s headquarters, which was also webcast. “This is first end-to-end solution for capturing, classifying, retaining and retiring content based on policies,” he said.

Phillips pointed to Oracle and industry research that suggests that 80 percent of any company’s data is unstructured versus 20 percent that’s structured. Ninety percent of the unstructured data is currently unmanaged, he said.

ECM (enterprise content management) software has been around for a long time, but it hasn’t been widely adopted due to its high cost and the inherent complexity of the products. ECM players include EMC Corp.’s Documentum, FileNet Corp., Hummingbird Ltd., IBM Corp., Interwoven Inc. and Open Text Corp.

While content management has been important to customers, increasing pressure to comply with regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley rules governing U.S. public companies “has made content management a lot more topical at the executive level,” Phillips said.

Oracle spent several years developing Content DB and Records DB, taking on a number of ECM experts and making several point acquisitions, he added.

Oracle’s database is the repository for both tools. The company has worked hard on ease of use. “If you know how to use [Microsoft’s] File Manager, you can use Content DB and Records DB,” Phillips said. The capabilities in the two new Oracle products can be extended to other applications. Content DB and Records DB already integrate with Oracle’s E-Business Suite of applications and integration with its PeopleSoft and Siebel applications “is on the way,” Phillips said. Oracle’s partners will be able to build on top of the capabilities of Content DB and Records DB to provide more specialized functionality, he added.

Oracle has already installed the new tools internally and estimates that the standardizing of its content and records management software will save the vendor more than US$8 million annually. Early adopter Allstate Insurance Co. predicts that investing in Oracle’s content management software will cost one-sixth of the price of alternatives in the market.

Oracle partners supporting the vendor’s move included EMC, Hewlett-Packard Co., NEC Corp., Network Appliance Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Symantec Corp.

Tom Jenkins, Open Text executive chairman and chief strategy officer, described Oracle’s announcement as “a watershed event” in the content management market. ECM players such as Open Text have been waiting for systems companies such as Oracle to provide base-level content management so that they can focus on higher level functionality, he said.

Oracle expects to make both products available within the next 60 days and will announce pricing for Content DB and Records DB shortly before they ship.

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