Oracle's Cloud Office Suite, a challenger to Google Docs and Microsoft Office, is on the way.
Oracle turned the spotlight on its Cloud Office suite at the Oracle Open World 2010 with the database giant's chief software architect Edward Screven saying that Oracle is "right on the edge" of showcasing its offering.
The Cloud Office Suite was first announced in January 2010. However, Oracle has highlighted the platform of the product more than the product itself. The Cloud Office Suite will use Java FX - Sun's Rich Internet Application (RIA) platform - a closed Java scripting language for developing web based applications and user interface.
Google Docs uses AJAX platform and also Microsoft's Office Web apps - its browser-based Microsoft Office. In a way Oracle is championing its new JavaFX platform rather than the end product itself.
When the product was launched in January Oracle had stated it was targeting enterprise customers with the product. This would require integration between business intelligence and office solutions. In such a framework JavaFX is better suited for enterprise rather than AJAX. However, IBM is already in the segment with its Lotus Suite of products and Microsoft with Office and SharePoint.
The Cloud Suite allows editing of word, spreadsheet documents and presentations over the browser.
However, the closed nature of JavaFX can block the development of Cloud Office Suite, as it will not be able to create an ecosystem of developers around its platform. According to Raju Vegesna, chief evangelist at Zoho, "to bring that entire feature set online would take significant effort." He said that Zoho spent five years rewriting its Zoho Mail client into a Web app, despite its 350-strong corps of developers. "People underestimate the effort involved," Computer World quoted him as saying. Thus the launch of the product could be further delayed.
Also Oracle, in its promotional video, is positioning the product for netbooks and tablets. In order to exploit the tablet domain Oracle would have to have multiple apps for the suite, an area where it will be challenged due to lack of AJAX.
Another caveat in its strategy could be that it will not be available for iPad as Apple does not allow running decoded script on its platforms and with BlackBerry possessing DataViz's Documents To Go, Oracle would have to compete with Google in the Android platform.
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