Oracle announced today WebCenter Suite 10g R3, which it describes as a "next-generation user interaction environment." It will deliver task-oriented, contextual, multi-channel interactions for information workers, bringing Web 2.0 technology to the enterprise," according to the press release. And, it's part of the Oracle Fusion Middleware. Not only that, Oracle WebCenter Suite is licensed as an option on top of Oracle Application Server Enterprise Edition for $50,000 per CPU.
What happened to lightweight Web applications? For dollars per month, "information workers" can create their own project wikis, tied into directory services and pull in structured and unstructured data. It's more cobbled together than Oracle's WebCenter, which is a top down version of Enterprise 2.0, bringing technologies such as wikis, blogs, AJAX and widgets to a comprehensive enterprise framework.
The demo of WebCenter given this morning at OracleWorld was impressive, with blogs, wikis, threaded discussion, widgets, instant messaging, search, VoIP, RSS and mashhups all rolled into one application development environment. However, two key components--WebCenter Composer, for creating and customizing the application user interfaces, business rules, profiles and policies, and WebCenter Spaces, which allows individuals and groups to collaborate and manage projects--are not available in the first release.
Application environments, such as Oracle's WebCenter and BEA's forthcoming products, are a natural evolution of portal products, sprinkled with Web 2.0, aimed at large enterprises. Oracle claims that competing technology from other vendors is more costly and takes months to stitch together. That may be true if you are talking about vendors with proprietary solutions that will not survive this decade, but most people collaborating on a task don't need to a heavyweight Oracle stack. They aren't trying to boil the ocean, and there is a growing base of lighterweight, far less expensive software that is coming through the back door of corporations and will gradually make its way to the front door.