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Oracle rethinks InterOffice strategy

The company plans to retreat from the corporate groupware market and reposition InterOffice as an information management product for ISPs.

Oracle (ORCL) continues to rethink its strategy to sell its floundering InterOffice messaging server.

The company plans to retreat from the corporate groupware market and reposition InterOffice, originally conceived as a direct competitor to Lotus Development's Notes and Microsoft's Exchange server, as an information management product for ISPs (Internet service providers), a company representative confirmed.

The new InterOffice strategy comes in the wake of a reorganization last November of Oracle's Web-based applications divisions into a single unit, the Application Server division, headed by senior vice president Beatriz Infante.

The division handles Oracle's Internet commerce, messaging, collaboration, and directory services technologies, and is responsible for developing and marketing Web Application Server, Internet Commerce Server, and InterOffice.

In November, Oracle positioned the reorganization, which cost former InterOffice marketing chief Joe Duncan his job, as putting the server side of its network computing initiative in one division to challenge Microsoft's BackOffice server software bundle and other server-related technologies.

"This pulls together a really complete solutions platform and creates opportunities for additional product development," Infante said at the time.

It now appears that Oracle will challenge Microsoft at the high-end of the market, providing software and technologies to ISPs.

Microsoft offers the Commercial Internet System, a bundle of BackOffice products targeted at ISPs, which includes commercial-grade mail and news servers for supporting thousands of users, along with other content and user management products.

Oracle appears to be headed down the same road with InterOffice.

In September, Oracle announced InterOffice 4.1, which features enhanced database messaging, HTML-based email software, and Java application support.

The upgrade also included the much-ballyhooed Java client, code-named HatTrick, which includes presentation graphics and word processing capabilities. Oracle may attempt to use InterOffice and HatTrick, which the company said will be shipped with every future network computer built to Oracle's reference specification, to entice ISPs.

InterOffice 4.1 also includes Oracle ConText, which provides message and document summarization and theme-based search capabilities.