On Tuesday, Oct. 23, Sun Microsystems will try to expand the appeal of its iPlanet portal software by giving it collaborative services that move beyond e-mail to instant messaging for the enterprise, with an ability to jointly work on documents.
The Instant Collaboration Pack addition to the iPlanet Portal Server will allow workgroups to convene and interact through chat and IM, with the user identification made clear.
"The user can state context. The user context can be the role they play. Are they a business partner or employee? What type of device are they using? How do they fit into the projects process: Are they an initiator or approver?" said John Fanelli, iPlanets director of communications and portal products. IPlanet is the division that sprang out of the Sun-Netscape Communications Alliance, but its work is directed by Sun and its output rounds out Suns middleware offerings.
IPlanets portal software is conceived of as an extension of or "complement to the desktop," Fanelli said. The Instant Collaboration Pack adds Internet-based communications and services to the desktop, he said.
By offering a package of portal software that any company may implement, iPlanet gives an enterprise the ability to begin to link together virtual workgroups without relying on IM from The Microsoft Network, Yahoo! and other consumer service providers. Businesses were reluctant to make use of the collaborative services as long as they were based on a server somewhere outside their premises and beyond their control, Fanelli said.
IBMs Lotus Development unit also supplies IM as an add-on to its Lotus Notes collaborative software. Several smaller providers also offer collaborative software, such as Multicity.com and its Minicity Suite 2.0. However, iPlanet is trying to add value to IM through its portal approach, Fanelli noted.
"I can start a chat discussion, send alerts to other project members, annotate documents with comments like must read or not useful," Fanelli said. The pack includes file sharing capabilities as well as IM, he said.
The Instant Collaboration Pack runs on top of the $35,000 iPlanet Portal Server. The pack is priced at $30 per user as a one-time license fee. A Personalize Knowledge Pack is also available for $120 per user, and a Mobile Access Pack that can connect mobile users to the collaborative portal costs $150 per user.