BEA Systems is broadening its portal server on top of its popular WebLogic application server, placing the middleware company more directly in the crowded portal software arena.
The move will bring BEA into direct competition with the 30-plus portal application vendors. In addition, it will up BEAs ante against IBM and Sun Microsystems, which have already added portal applications to their WebSphere and iPlanet application server software.
BEA, however, has a market-leading product in its WebLogic application server, according to both Gartner and Meta Group, which give it 41 percent and 37 percent market share, respectively. By integrating a portal with an application server, companies may bring new application services to bear on their Web sites more quickly and juggle them more frequently, analysts said.
BEA WebLogic Portal 4.0, announced today, is an expansion of its predecessor, Personalization Server, launched 20 months ago. Personalization Server focused on bringing a set of relevant information to a given audience. Portal 4.0 will bring multiple portals to multiple audiences, allowing an enterprise to address its employees, its customers and its business partners from one portal server, said Mauricio Alvarez, senior director of technology.
Portal 4.0 will offer core e-commerce services, such as catalog, shopping cart and integration of a payment system, said Pat OHaren, senior director of marketing. It will include more advanced features, like a rules-based entitlement engine that tracks a visitors behavior, discriminates between types of visitors and offers appropriate interactions with a customer, he said.
In addition, it will include administrative services that allow management and control of the portal to be delegated to various managers across an enterprise.
Portal 4.0 is priced at $57,000 per server central processing unit and is due Oct. 29. Announced on Oct. 22, WebLogic Integration 2.1 is available immediately at a price of $52,000 per CPU, and provides connectivity to back-end systems for WebLogic applications.
BEA has experienced turbulence recently: The board in mid-September implemented a poison pill defense against takeover by giving common shareholders the right to purchase preferred stock at reduced prices in the event of a takeover bid. Two weeks later, longtime Chairman Bill Coleman stepped down from his CEO position and was replaced in that role by company co-founder Alfred Chuang.