At next week's Collaborate 2007 Oracle users' group conference in Las Vegas, Microsoft is rolling out a contest to encourage developers to integrate Office 2007 with Oracle applications.
The winner of the "O 2 OBA Challenge" gets $25,000 to implement the resulting mash-up.
(Microsoft also is convening at Collaborate 2007 a meeting of members of its newly minted "Microsoft Technology Consortium for Oracle Applications Users" next week, as well, and plans to focus on how SharePoint Server wil "light up" customers Oracle applications.)
Microsoft already has built a number of these kinds of Office mash-ups, which Microsoft calls Office Business Applications (OBAs). The best known of the existing OBAs is Duet, the jointly-developed Microsoft-SAP application which integrates Office on the front end with SAP CRM and ERP/supply chain processes on the back-end. Microsoft also is integrating Office with its own back-end ERP and CRM products, and announced in March its plans for a "Dynamics Client for Microsoft Office and SharePoint Server."
Microsoft has been working to hone its definition of OBA for more than a year. Recently, I stumbled onto Microsoft Architecture Strategist Mike Walker's blog. If you want to get a good handle on all things OBA, this is your site.
Walker's "What are OBAs?" post is a must-read for anyone trying to figure out why OBAs matter to Microsoft (and will matter, going forward, to its users). And in his "What types of OBAs are there?" post, Walker explains the difference between Office-client-only and Office-client-plus SharePoint OBAs.
But back to the Oracle OBA challenge. Microsoft has competed with Oracle on the database side and JD Edwards and PeopleSoft on the business application side for a while now. It looks like Microsoft is going to turn up the middleware/SOA heat on Oracle next.