Slicing the Enterprise Pie

Portal developers partnering with integration vendors to make software more Transaction-Oriented.

Portal developers Octopus Software Inc. and DataChannel Inc. are making their software more transaction-oriented through upgrades and partnerships with EAI vendors.

The goal of products coming from both companies is to provide users with a front-end presentation layer with which to view and manipulate a broader slice of corporate applications.

Octopus last week introduced its namesake platform for building so-called Meta Applications, which enable nontechnical business users to create customized views of data from multiple sources. The Octopus Platform uses specialized adapters and a drag-and-drop user interface to view fine-grained data in Extensible Markup Language, messaging systems, enterprise resource planning applications, and other enterprise and legacy software.

The platform also gives users the ability to write business logic and rules to create dynamic relationships between data coming from various systems, said Octopus CEO Stephen Douty, in Palo Alto, Calif. In this way, Meta Applications enable users to weave together data and processes from existing applications to form new applications.

"The integration we do is not in the plumbing; we work at the metadata layer," Douty said.

The platforms first three Meta Applications are Customer Portal, which is used to build Web sites; Customer Services, for customer-care employees; and Sales, designed to shorten the time needed to gather information about sales prospects and current customers.

Standard & Poors Co. is using the Octopus Platform to enhance its Adviser Insight product, which provides other financial services information to 65,000 brokers and financial advisers.

"We can customize sites for folks [in the IT department] ... but the requirement now is how on the Web can we offer this customization to a mass market," said Kenneth Ennis, vice president of Internet development for retail market services at S&P, in New York. "We know that folks like to look at only a handful of pages, but its different for every person."

The goal of the project, which is being rolled out, is to allow each of the users to quickly design a Web page that presents the information they use most often.

Separately, DataChannel, of Bellevue, Wash., this week will introduce its DCS (DataChannel Server) Extension Kit for EAI (enterprise application integration). The SDK (software development kit) lets companies tap into a broader range of enterprise applications through its DCS portal.

The SDK enables DCS to integrate with any platform that supports asynchronous messaging through adapters. New adapters from SeeBeyond Technology Corp. and Vitria Technology Inc. will extend DCS to 125 more applications and databases, DataChannel officials said.

Although the extension kit will be used by IT managers, DCS 5.0, due late this summer, will feature a new user interface that will allow nontechnical people to do drag-and-drop editing of their portal Web pages. Version 5.0 will also add an application server, additional EAI adapters, stronger versioning and workflow for document management, and the ability for users to have multiple virtual workspaces for collaboration, officials said.

A Shared Object Repository will enhance Version 5.0s process integration capabilities, officials said.