Oracle guns for government e-mail market

Within three years, Oracle Corp. hopes to have almost all government email stored on agency databases and servers running its software, said Kevin Fitzgerald, senior vice president of government, education and healthcare sales for Oracle, Redwood Shores, Calif.

The driver for this change will be the agency's need for cost-savings, Fitzgerald said.

Oracle is eyeing as a potentially growing market for systems holding e-mail, voice mail, calendar entries, word processing documents and other general files. According to Fitzgerald, Oracle powers 75 percent of the government databases, but only about 20 percent of data on government computers is stored in databases.

Released last July, the Oracle Collaboration suite was developed to deliver these services, a field now dominated by Microsoft Corp. It offers a solution that entails calendar, real-time conferencing and searching capabilities, email, file system support, voicemail, and workflow tools. The data from all these features are stored in a central database.

Just as Microsoft bundled different applications, such as a word processor and spreadsheet, into an office suite, so too does Oracle hope to dominate the collaboration market with one integrated offering, Fitzgerald said.

Mark Jarvis, chief marketing officer for Oracle said the software maker can offer a solution will cost $133 per year per user and will hold all voice mails, email and other files. To administer all these accounts separately would run $775 per year, he said, adding that the natural efficiencies gained by using an enterprise-wide database leads to the cost savings. For instance, an e-mail forwarded to 10,000 employees would take the room of only one email on an enterprise-wide database, since it is stored in one location.

"This is one of those areas where the cost really hasn't been closely examined before," Fitzgerald said. But with Microsoft phasing out support of version 5.5 of its Exchange server, agencies are now looking to upgrade and will be considering other, often less expensive, alternatives, Fitzgerald said. This is the market that Oracle hopes to capture.

Two states are now running Collaboration Suite prototypes, testing it for possible statewide use, Fitzgerald said.

Oracle can implement a system for $29 per user, based on a 2,000 user configuration, Jarvis said. The solution can work with existing end-user programs such as the Microsoft Outlook.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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