IBM on July 20 announced that research firm IDC had named IBM the leader in the enterprise portal space market for the fifth consecutive year. IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y., is moving to parlay that leadership into new areas with additional features in its WebSphere Portal offering. According to IDC, IBM had a 31.5 percent market share in 2006, followed by BEA Systems with 19.6 percent and Oracle with 10.5 percent.
"I see their leadership stemming from a few things," IDC analyst Kathy Quirk said. In particular, IBM is "successfully selling portal solutions to businesses of all sizes in conjunction with other complementary products, especially those used for collaboration," she said.
The company is aggressively adding features and capabilities to its portal software and improving the usability of the software for business users, Quirk said. IBM also is "working to make the portal environment easier to get up and running and administer on a day-to-day basis," she said.
Larry Bowden, vice president of portals and Web interaction services at IBM, said the company is integrating its WebSphere Portal software with advanced Web 2.0 expertise to create a more dynamic, personalized version of a portal. In addition, IBMs commitment to Web 2.0 and SOA (service-oriented architecture)-based systems will continue to make its collaboration software more flexible and more useful, he said.
"Portals are a natural home for a lot of the new technologies coming forward," Bowden said. "We are seeing the new social networking technologies coming into the portal."
Another thing driving the merging of portals and Web 2.0 is the collaborative element of the technologies, Bowden said.
"Portals have been primarily used to distribute information, but now things are getting more interactive," he said. "You can have instant messaging, real-time chats with customers and constituents, and even video."
Bowden said some of the new directions for WebSphere Portal will include "simplifying mashup creation so that end users have the power, so that every consumer can take feed No.1 and mash it up with feed No. 2. We have customers doing it today, but its not as easy as we want it to be."
IBM also is improving the performance of the portal. "Were investing in the response experience of the portal," Bowden said. "Were going to be able to refresh just those fields that are new and not the entire page."
Another area of focus is semantic tagging, a feature that enables the portal to deliver a more personalized experience to users based on the way they navigate through the portal. "We dont ask you questions, we build a profile based on the way you navigate the portal," he said.
Additional features include enhanced integration with forms processing and with social networking technology, as well as the ability to take portal capabilities offline using IBMs Lotus Expeditor technology.
IDC projects that the enterprise portal software market will expand more than 50 percent by 2011, to $1.4 billion. The market grew nearly 11 percent in 2006, with license and maintenance revenue of $901 million, IDC reported.
IDC also anticipates solid market growth fueled by mashing up portals with new Web 2.0 collaboration and development technologies. A recent IDC report on the subject said. "Web 2.0 collaboration features are finding a welcome home within the portal. as business users want to take advantage of these new egalitarian methods that offer easy ways for end users to customize content, while IT can take comfort in the portals ability to deliver them within a secure deployment environment."