Customers who use WebSphere Portal to build corporate Web sites will have access to more than 4,000 Google Gadgets, which are compact, pre-programmed applets and Web services that provide links to a variety of online information services, said Steven Ricketts, IBMs WebSphere Portal program director.
They include links to research databases, package delivery tracking systems, newswires, maps, podcast searches or YouTube videos—virtually any kind of information service that might be relevant to a business or consumer Web portal, he said.
The Google Gadgets in effect are being added to the thousands of pre-programmed WebSphere business application "portlets" that IBM already offers through its online catalog.
IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y., also introduced a search site map utility, a site map protocol designed to make it easier for public search engines to find and index fresh content on corporate Web sites. The utility also provides gives Web sites the ability to notify search engines as to how frequently content is updated, the priority of the content and the last modification date. More information about the site map protocol can be found here.
IBMs WebSphere Portal announcement comes a week after Google introduced its Google Apps Premier Edition, which is a suite of Web-based business applications, including spreadsheets, e-mail, word processing calendars and instant messaging, for $50 per account per year. Google officials have said the applications are designed to be used by organizations of every size, including large enterprises and departments within large organizations.
The IBM announcement gives Google another opportunity to put these information-services gadgets into the hands of corporate users as well as consumers visiting corporate Web sites.
IBMs move also puts further pressure on Microsoft and other application software vendors by demonstrating once again that the Web is rapidly becoming the distribution channel for delivering powerful but low-cost information services to users.
"Google Gadgets give users and site owners access to thousands of free tools, news sources and interactive entertainment. This deal will bring these services to millions of IBM WebSphere Portal users and empower them to access and create gadgets that meet both their internal and external needs," a spokesperson for Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., said in a statement on Feb. 28. In return, "Google Gadget developers will benefit from increased exposure for their gadgets among the business community," the statement said.
However, Google made it clear that the IBM deal was hardly an exclusive partnership. "We are always interested in helping businesses connect their users to the information they need and welcome discussions with other companies who are interested in making gadgets available to their customers," the statement said.
The main benefit of the integration of Google Gadgets with the WebSphere portal, Ricketts said, is that it will give corporate portal developers access to a palette of ready-made Web services that they can instantly drag and drop into their page layouts.
Individual users or corporate departments can also use the gadgets in customized pages that suit specialized needs, he said.
However, WebSphere also provides administrative controls that can define which Web services or gadgets individual users or departments can access, he said.
"As companies look to add various kinds of very useful interactive [content] to sites, they want to make sure they do that in a well-managed way," Ricketts said.
"Another clear benefit is time-to-value," he said, adding that many companies want to give employees a quick way to add Web services that are particularly relevant to the work they are doing.
The Google Gadget partnership came about as a result of information-services development work the two companies had been doing independently and jointly, said Lauren Wendel, IBMs WebSphere Portal product manager.
"Google has a strong partner program and a real interest in leveraging the utility of their applications where it makes sense," she said. "We have had a good working relationship with them for a while now on a number of fronts, and this grew out of some innovations that we jointly saw each other doing."
IBM is making Google Gadgets available to WebSphere Portal and WebSphere Portal Express Version 6.0 customers at no additional charge.