Oracle eyes portal improvements

Oracle eyes portal improvements

Oracle is mapping out two upgrades to the enterprise portal software package acquired when the company bought BEA Systems,

Highlighted at the Oracle OpenWorld 2008 conference in San Francisco on Monday evening, plans call for new releases of Oracle WebCenter Interaction, formerly BEA AquaLogic User Interaction, later this year and in 2009.

The product offers many uses, said Ajay Gandhi, senior director of product management for Enterprise 2.0 and portal products at Oracle. Among these uses are social networking and serving as a front end to a composite application in an SOA stack. Gandhi came over to Oracle from BEA, which Oracle acquired earlier this year.

WebCenter Interaction has become part of Oracle's WebCenter Suite. The upcoming fall release, WebCenter Interaction 10g R3, serves as the first Oracle-branded version of the product, Gandhi said.

"The big thing is it's designed to work with Oracle's Web 2.0-based WebCenter Services and Oracle's Universal Content Management [platform]," Gandhi said during a follow-up interview. WebCenter Services features Web 2.0 services like wikis and blogs;

Also featured in the 10g R3 product are improvements to adaptive layouts and the UI. "It's really a release designed to come out with Oracle branding, [the] Oracle look and feel," Gandhi said.

The fall release also supports Java Development Kit 1.6, enabling developers writing portlets to use the current Java standard, said Gandhi.

The second half of 2009 will see the Neo release of WebCenter Interaction, featuring support for deployment on Windows Server 2008. The official name of the release is Oracle WebCenter Interaction 11g.

Another key capability is microblogging, which leverages small messages tracked on a user's profile page. Activity streams, for tracking activities relevant to work, are leveraged as part of the overarching WebCenter Services suite.

A "People Connections" capability in 11g is a Web 2.0 service offering such functionality as content recommendations. Version 11g also bridges with Microsoft SharePoint Web Part portlets.

Also featured in 11g is WebCenter Collaboration, a renaming of the AquaLogic Collaboration module that is used to create community- and project-based workspaces. The UI will be more dynamic, featuring tagging capabilities and RSS subscriptions. It also will be integrated with Microsoft Office 2007.

The Neo release will boost standards support around content integration and portlets consumption; the company still is ironing out which specific standards will be backed, Gandhi said.

A user of the portal software, who first deployed it when it was a Plumtree product, said he has been satisfied with Oracle's acquisition. But the change has meant another round of transition, said the user, Geoff Garcia, producer for enterprise portal at March of Dimes.

"Going from Plumtree to BEA, we were still going through that transition," Garcia said. "Now, we've got a whole [new] transition with another name change."

March of Dimes has been scheduled to redo its support contract but that has been put on hold indefinitely since the merger, said Garcia.

BEA acquired Plumtree in 2005.

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