Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Oracle aiding Mozilla to compete with Microsoft's Outlook?

Something is going on behind the scenes at Oracle that may involve creating an open-source alternative to Microsoft's Outlook. Apparently, Oracle has hired three people to work on an open source project, known as Mozilla Lightning, that will integrate the open source Mozilla's calendar with its e-mail application.

The only confirmation of this comes from Mozilla itself, which has refused to comment further. And Oracle is remaining tight-lipped on its intentions. However, it's not hard to see what Oracle may be up to. Oracle has made a heavy investment in porting its database and applications to Linux, giving it a low-cost platform as an alternative to Microsoft's server operating systems. But when it comes to messaging and collaboration applications, Oracle doesn't have much of an alternative to Microsoft's Outlook and Exchange. Oracle has been trying to crack into the collaboration market with its own Oracle Collaboration Suite (OCS), but frankly, until this morning, I didn't even know Oracle had such a product. IBM's Notes/Domino is an alternative, but Oracle's not about to promote an IBM product.

Therefore, Oracle's best shot is to promote an open source alternative. Mozilla, which also forms the basis for the popular open source Firefox web browser, is a good choice. Although Oracle risks taking potential market share away from its own collaboration suite, the success of Mozilla's Lightning project is of more strategic value to Oracle for three reasons:
  • Lightning is likely to gain market acceptance more quickly, as Firefox already has done.
  • Lightning gives Linux users a messaging and collaboration capability, the lack of which is a barrier to organizations that want to go completely with Linux.
  • Mozilla's products are a potential threat to Microsoft's hold on business users, which Oracle wants to break.

Lightning is targeting a general user release in mid-2005. CNET has more on the story. For a fuller description of Lightning itself, check out the Lightning section in Mozilla's wiki.

Related posts
Key advantage of open source is NOT cost savings
The Microsoft ERP lock in effect

No comments: