Anybody have feedback on the underlying technologies that make Oracle Collaboration Suite tick ?
Thanks in advance.
The technical structure
OCS is a three-tier client/server application suite. Diverse clients on the front end communicate with the Oracle 9i Application Server in the middle tier, and all messages (including voice mail and inbound faxes) are stored in a single instance of the Oracle 9i database.
Oracle's approach is to store everything—mailboxes, e-mail, attachments, even voice mail and faxes—in one relational database instead of separate data stores on multiple servers. This approach allows the message base to grow to many terabytes and to take advantage of parallel processing features built into the database engine. The approach also allows the entire enterprisewide message base to be easily searched for relevant content.
In the middle tier are services based on several Oracle products. The central piece is Oracle 9i Application Server (9iAS), with Apache Web server as its heart. Oracle Internet Directory, an LDAP-compliant directory service used to store lists of users, and Oracle Files, used to store message attachments, are also in the middle layer. UltraSearch, based on OracleText, indexes content and stores the index in the database.
Users can connect with their all-in-one inboxes using five clients.
Desktop client: Outlook Connector
OCS uses an Outlook Connector to translate Microsoft-specific protocols such as MAPI to Internet standard protocols, like IMAP4 (e-mail) and CAP (calendaring). This shortens the learning curve in those organisations that have already spent significant time training people to use Outlook. Messages retrieved via one channel are marked as being read, even when the user logs in via a different channel.
Thin client: Web browser
OCS includes Web mail functionality similar to Outlook Web Access, to enable users to retrieve their inbox contents from any Web browser. Using the browser-based client simplifies the administration of user desktops and will be the normal client in organisations not already trained on Outlook.
Wireless client: PDA/phone
Support for both Wireless Access Protocol (WAP) and iMode phones enables users to check their mail, voice mail, and calendar items. Alerts can also be pushed out to users via Short Message Service (SMS) text messages. The wireless features are based on XML and J2EE so customer-specific applications can be built on top of them.
Voice client: Telephone
Users can retrieve messages using a touch-tone (DTMF) telephone. Message headers will be read to the user; voice messages are stored as .wav files, which can be played back on the phone. The voice mail features comply with Enterprise Computer Telephony Forum (ECTF) standards, certified at the telephone switch level.
Fax client: RightFax
Users can send and receive faxes through the system.
New in Release 2 is the iMeeting Client, which enables Web conferences (both live and recorded playback), instant messaging, and cobrowsing (in which one user's browser changes pages automatically to match another's).
Oracle is offering three ways to deploy OCS. All of them require licensing of the suite at $60 per mailbox (with a specified minimum number of mailboxes) for a perpetual license. Some options have additional monthly fees.
One option allows customers to license the software and run it on their own servers at no additional cost per month. The customer is responsible for all maintenance and administration in this case.
The @Oracle option is an outsourced implementation. The suite is hosted on Oracle-owned hardware at an Oracle data center. Oracle staff does all the maintenance, upgrades, and administration. The additional cost for this option is $8 per month per mailbox for e-mail and files only, or $10 per month per mailbox for the full suite.
The @Customer option is a hybrid. The suite is hosted on customer-owned hardware, either at the customer's own site or at a third-party colocation facility. The customer administers the hardware and operating system; Oracle DBAs manage the Oracle software remotely. The cost for @Customer hosting is $6 per month per mailbox for e-mail and files only, and $8 per month for the full suite.
Of these options, the @Customer approach may be the most useful to a wide variety of companies: They can retain physical control of their information assets while relieving themselves of the burden of ongoing maintenance and administration. Oracle is well positioned to offer this service, because it has been offering remote database administration services for several years.
Last edited by roadwarriorDBA; 07-21-2005 at 03:00 PM.
OCS is a linux product that will sort-of work sometimes in other environments.
It's built on 9iAS, which is possibly the worst application server ever made. When they switch to AS10g components it might be better... might! Being built on ropey technology means the final product is ropey. Bit's of it regularly stop working and the only way to fix them is a reboot, which takes about 30 mins, assuming it comes back up OK.
The installation is a nightmare. I'm sure it's better in subsequent releases, but when we started it was a consultancy job only.
OSC uses all the 9iAS app server bits you've heard of before including database, OID, instrastructure, single signon, portal along with stuff like IFS, but it is limited to specific versions, so chances are you can't use it with your existing database, OID, SSO, infrastructure etc. So you end up having multiple versions of Oracle components in you environment with lots of boxes and lots of duplication.
Support for OCS is essentially, "Ask the people who installed it!".
The calendar is not stored in the database. It's stored in flat files. It was a bought-in product that has not been integrated yet.
When we bought it, very few people has actually bought into OCS, despite it being cheaper than Exchange. I guess I now know why.
When it's all working you could be forgiven for thinking its an enterprise class product, but it isn't working properly most of the time.
My advice, use Exchange or any other mail system until Oracle do the job properly or give up with this product.