|Oracle® Beehive Concepts
Release 1 (1.4)
Part Number E13794-02
This module provides an overview of several high-level concepts and challenges related to enterprise collaboration, and discusses how Oracle Beehive addresses these challenges from the conceptual and feature perspectives.
This module contains the following topics:
Oracle Beehive is the next generation of Oracle's enterprise collaboration technologies. Oracle Beehive provides a unified collaboration application and platform comprised of a comprehensive set of integrated Java-based services, offering a new paradigm for enterprise collaboration solutions.
Oracle Beehive unifies common yet typically disjointed collaborative services, such as e-mail, time management, instant messaging, and content management, among others, and delivers them through standard protocol clients, integrated Web services, and familiar desktop tools such as Microsoft Outlook. This unified offering enables teams, individuals, and organizations to more easily collaborate, generate new information, make timely decisions, and, ultimately, take action.
Oracle Beehive allows IT departments to consolidate their collaboration-enabling infrastructures and implement people-centric, rather than tool-centric, applications in a centrally managed, secure, and compliant environment. The Oracle Beehive platform is built on proven and cost-effective Oracle technologies, such as Oracle Database and Oracle Application Server, which provide reliability, manageability, scalability, and performance.
There are many challenges to achieving consistent and effective collaboration throughout an enterprise. Some of the most common and far-reaching challenges that Oracle Beehive addresses include the following:
To collaborate, users must typically leverage a patchwork of separate and quite distinct tools for e-mail, time management, content management, and telecommunications. While each tool has its inherent strengths and benefits for its intended purpose, especially in the context of personal productivity, there is little or no cohesion among them when engaging in collaboration that is project-based, or that is within the context of a team, department, or line of business. As a result, users waste time and lose the contexts of their efforts when switching between different applications.
Oracle Beehive provides cohesive, team workspaces that simplify and unify the user experience, empowering team members to collaborate effectively each from a client of their choosing. Even phones and voicemail no longer must be separated from computers and collaborative applications, and, instead, can consume Oracle Beehive services.
The unity provided by Oracle Beehive centralizes and streamlines many aspects of system administration, including hardware and software administration. System administrators no longer need to manage each application and its associated hardware separately, but can perform their day-to-day tasks from a single vantage point. And, existing and previously incompatible third-party collaborative components can now integrate easily by leveraging the open nature of the Oracle Beehive platform for a truly unified, cost-efficient, and effective solution.
Since the advent of the Internet and the communications technologies that it enables, enterprises have experienced an exponential growth of information that has lead to information overload. With so much content being created and distributed, it is often difficult to organize it intuitively, and then quickly find it when needed. Workers commonly ask, "Where is that e-mail my colleague sent me regarding a recent project?" or "Can I find the document my manager distributed last month?". Quite often the answers to these questions are "I don't know" and "No, I can't."
Also, despite the ubiquity and ease in which e-mail and instant messaging applications are used to communicate and exchange ideas, they often fail to capture the context of communications and information. That is, although they capture basic information such as the sender and the subject of a particular communication, they rarely, if ever, capture other important aspects such as the original creator of the content, the names of other contributors to the content or those who need to know about it, and the name of the project or the business unit to which it is associated. As a result, team members waste time searching for the supporting information and people that provide the contexts for their collaborative efforts, including the current and historical perspectives. Ultimately, this translates into productivity losses and inefficiencies.
Oracle Beehive solves these challenges by providing a platform that captures the context of all enterprise content and communications, and that enables users to organize it intuitively for future retrieval. Oracle Beehive also provides powerful enterprise search features that enable users to quickly find content of various data types, including e-mail, documents, and calendar entries, from a single entry point. This is useful in cases where the content hierarchy is unfamiliar or the exact location of the content is unknown.
Despite the recent technological advances in communications, there is still a disconnect between enterprise teams, especially among members distributed geographically across global locations. In fact, despite attempts to connect people, many collaborative tools and solutions are inadequate for the challenges of geographically dispersed teams. Factors such as team members working in different time zones and countries, integrations of dissimilar applications, and the system administration resources required to support distributed teams, solutions, and infrastructures, all undermine the effectiveness and efficiencies of collaborative technologies.
Oracle Beehive resolves these issues by providing a new paradigm of an open, yet unified collaborative platform. With Oracle Beehive, team members can work from anywhere and at anytime, and can stay connected to their projects and colleagues by leveraging any of Oracle Beehive's integrated collaborative services, including e-mail, instant messaging, voicemail, time and task management, and collaborative content management. Furthermore, Oracle Beehive's presence features allow individual team members to broadcast their current whereabouts and preferred methods of communication, enabling colleagues to contact each other instantly regardless of their locations.
With Oracle Beehive, team members distributed among various departments can share their documents easily. They can also subscribe to documents so that they are notified automatically when those documents change. This system-generated notification feature eliminates the need for other team members to manually create e-mail messages, both as a notification medium and as a document distribution mechanism. This also eliminates the risk of colleagues not being notified when important changes occur.
Finally, because Oracle Beehive is a unified platform, system administrators can centrally manage their dispersed user populations and all aspects of the system, including services, servers, integrated third-party components, and hardware.
In addition to providing disjointed functionality, disparate collaboration tools create disparate silos of data, even when much of that data is actually related. For example, consider a team member who sends an e-mail to several colleagues to schedule a meeting, with the goal of discussing a project that is described in a document. In this case, the e-mail message may be stored on an e-mail server, the meeting entry on a time management server, the document on a file server, and so on. And, as a result, team members may have no way to relate or bind these items together, resulting in a loss of both organizational efficiencies and future retrieval capabilities. Since all these items are related, the applications that enable and manage them should also be related.
The unified approach of Oracle Beehive results in a single, virtual data silo, in which users can create and manage all of their personal and team-based content easily in one place.
The ability to implement and enforce corporate policies and control over content is critical for enterprises, not only to protect intellectual property, but also to comply with government regulations. Again, in cases where disjointed tools are the norm, and content and workflow processes are highly unorganized, it can be extremely difficult to achieve this goal. This is especially true when attempting to discover and audit records, as well as to initiate and enforce mandatory retention and disposition policies.
Oracle Beehive provides powerful core services and flexible integration capabilities to support stringent and dynamic compliance needs. With Oracle Beehive, enterprises can leverage the system to manage all content and communications, including e-mail, documents, instant messages, and voicemail. For additional policy enforcement and workflow control, enterprises can leverage the openness of the Oracle Beehive platform to integrate Oracle Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) processes and other workflow solutions.
Oracle Beehive provides many features and benefits for enabling effective enterprise collaboration, including:
Oracle Beehive provides the full range of collaborative services for enterprise users, including:
Content and document management
Mobile device support
An Oracle Beehive workspace is a virtual location and container that provides users a place and context for collaboration, and enables them to store the artifacts related to their collaborative activities. Oracle Beehive workspaces present features and information to users in context, that is, each workspace is created for a particular purpose, such as for a team, a project, a process, and so forth. The result is that users are always presented information that is relevant to them and their current activities.
Through workspaces, users can seamlessly collaborate with their colleagues, search intuitively to quickly find needed information, and subscribe to content so that they receive notifications when that content changes.
Oracle Beehive is a powerful and flexible platform that can seamlessly coexist with other collaborative applications and technologies. The wide range of supported integrations include: e-mail and time management technologies such as Microsoft Exchange Server; Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) and user directory servers, such as Oracle Internet Directory and Microsoft Active Directory; and enterprise anti-virus applications, such as Symantec Scan Engine. Oracle Beehive also exposes APIs and Web services that enable developers to leverage the platform and integrate it with their own focused solutions.
Oracle Beehive provides APIs that enable developers to create custom solutions that leverage the platform. These APIs include Oracle Beehive Web services.
The Oracle Beehive platform also provides key integration points for leveraging existing systems and components, including custom policies and workflows. Policies and workflows can be triggered by any of the system's more than 350 unique business events, such as when a user modifies a document or deletes an e-mail message.
Oracle Beehive provides system administrators with simplified and centralized Web-based administration capabilities through Oracle Beekeeper. Administrators can also leverage Oracle's command line tool (
beectl) for streamlined execution of administrative functions. Features provided through these tools include:
User and group management
Client application management (installs, upgrades, and patches)
Deployments across multiple network zones
Users can access Oracle Beehive with a variety of clients, including:
Microsoft Outlook: Through Oracle Beehive Integration for Outlook (OBIO), Oracle Beehive leverages the e-mail, calendar, task, and contact management capabilities provided by Microsoft Outlook as well as exposes other capabilities, such as team workspaces and document access. OBIO is a Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI) service provider for Microsoft Outlook.
Zimbra Web client: Oracle Beehive provides Web-based access to the system through Oracle Beehive Integration for Zimbra. Oracle Beehive Integration for Zimbra enables users to manage their e-mail, calendars, and contacts in a simple-to-use and Web-accessible interface.
Standards-based clients: Users can access Oracle Beehive with standard protocol clients based on Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV), Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP), Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP), Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), and Calendaring Extensions to WebDAV (CalDAV), to name a few. Oracle Beehive supports many proprietary and open sourece clients including Apple Mail, Microsoft Windows WebFolders, Mozilla Thunderbird, and Pidgin, among others.
Oracle Beehive supports delegation, which is the ability of a user to grant another user the privileges necessary to act on his or her behalf. This includes the ability for the delegated user to read, write, and delete the original user's calendar entries, e-mail messages, documents, and contacts through a supported client, such as Oracle Beehive Integration for Outlook.
Before delving into the functional and technical details of Oracle Beehive, it is important to understand several fundamental terms and concepts. Together, the following terms and concepts form the foundation of the system, enabling many of the collaboration-based features that it provides:
A service is a discrete implementation of specific functionality that users and other services can leverage to accomplish a task. The capabilities and interactions of services enable the full scope of functionality that Oracle Beehive provides.
Through supported client devices and graphical user interfaces (GUIs), Oracle Beehive visually exposes to users the features and functions of some services. Other services operate in the background and play low-level roles within the system such as enabling key integrations with other systems. Examples of services whose features Oracle Beehive exposes visually to users include the E-mail Service, the Time Management (Calendar) Service, and the Content Management Service. Examples of services whose roles enable underlying system functionality and are, therefore, mostly hidden from users include the Authentication Service, the Policy Service, and the Coexistence Service.
An enterprise is a logical collection of the entities that comprise an Oracle Beehive deployment, such as organizations, workspaces, and users. Organizations are narrowly defined groups within an enterprise. Typically, an organization is defined by a department or line of business, but it can also be based on a project or other criteria.
The hierarchical relationship between enterprises and organizations in Oracle Beehive provides a logical structure for organizing users, groups, and workspaces, while enabling many aspects of the collaborative functionality offered by the system. This structure also enables system administrators to more easily manage users and workspaces through their organizational associations.
A workspace is a both a virtual location and a container that provides Oracle Beehive users a place to collaborate, and enables them to create, view, store, access, and manage the artifacts related to their collaborations. From the user perspective, workspaces appear in supported Oracle Beehive clients.
Workspaces expose to users the many collaborative services that Oracle Beehive provides, enabling users to seamlessly perform a wide range of collaborative activities in a single, intuitive place. In workspaces, users can create, view, and manage e-mail messages, calendar appointments, meetings, tasks, contacts, instant messages, and documents, and so forth.
Oracle Beehive provides two types of workspaces: team workspaces and personal workspaces. A team workspace is a workspace that is shared by a team or group, and that supports the content and collaborative activities of its members. A personal workspace is a workspace that is primarily used by an individual user and that contains a mix of a user's private content and content from the team workspaces in which the user is a member.
Workspaces can be created for specific teams, projects, processes, or whatever criteria that makes sense. Based on this, workspaces are always in context for users and present only the features and content that are relevant to their particular activities.
An actor is an entity, such as a user or service, that acts upon other entities.
Artifacts are another entity sub-class and represent objects that users can view, create, modify, or delete. Artifacts are the results of communications and other collaborative activities, and include e-mail messages, appointments, meetings, tasks, online discussions, notes, and documents. Oracle Beehive stores artifacts in Oracle Database.