WebSphere Portal 5.0
IBM has given its already-strong WebSphere Portal a boost in this upgrade, addressing pretty much all the weaknesses of previous versions (especially in the administration interface). Companies can more easily manage and leverage this powerful portal offering.
Compared with some other enterprise portals, IBMs WebSphere Portal has become a big player in a relatively short time. However, while past versions of the IBM portal were capable in many ways, the platform was incomplete in some areas.
With the release of Version 5.0 of its portal platform, IBM has addressed these shortcomings, and WebSphere Portal is now fully deserving of its spot among the top EIP products in the EIP market.
The IBM portals many improvements include significant upgrades to both the administrative and end-user interfaces. The product also does a good job of leveraging the powerful WebSphere Application Server platform, upon which it is based, as well as collaborative tools from IBMs Lotus Software division.
For users of previous versions of the portal, the biggest surprise will be in the administrative area, one of the products major weaknesses in the past. WebSphere Portal now features a capable, easily navigable management interface that compares well with competing portals. In tests, we could easily configure portal settings, define the look and feel of the portal, control user and group settings, and view portal activity.
In addition, the updated Content Organizer, now called Document Manager, made it possible in our tests to create hierarchical directories of documents for users to navigate. We could also apply advanced controls and workflows to content using Document Manager.
One welcome new feature is the ability to map the long and cryptic (and default) WebSphere portal URLs to shorter, easy-to-use URLs. Another new feature let us use a command-line interface to generate an XML file of the portal configuration. This proved useful for cloning or redeploying a portal configuration, but we would have liked a graphical interface option.
Along with several improvements to the portal development tool kit, IBM now makes it possible to create portlets that communicate with one another. This allows users to change data in one portlet and have it affect the output in linked portlets. Creating these portlets requires simply entering specific JavaServer Pages tags, and IBM provides sample portlets that have this capability.
In fact, WebSphere Portal 5.0 includes many new portlets that can be deployed to end users. Several of these portlets improve on the integration between WebSphere Portal and Lotus Notes and Sametime. Its not surprising that WebSphere Portal would have such tight integration with Lotus applications.
However, competing products are not ignored, with several bundled portlets for integrating with Microsofts Exchange, for example.
Also new is a nice mail portlet for accessing mail from Post Office Protocol or IMAP servers, as well as a portlet for accessing Internet newsgroups. In addition, IBM has added several basic productivity portlets for viewing and editing file and document types.
WebSphere Portal 5.0 is available in an Express version for small businesses ($68 per user or $26,400 per processor); an Enable version with the base portal capabilities ($71,000 per processor); and a full-featured Extend version ($115,000 per processor), the version we tested.
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