IBM Unites Portals Under WebSphere Banner

IBM began the consolidation of its portal product lines under one unified offering Tuesday with the introduction of the WebSphere Portal.

IBM began the consolidation of its portal product lines under one unified offering Tuesday with the introduction of the WebSphere Portal.

WebSphere Portal represents the unification of existing IBM portal technology, including WebSphere Portal Server, WebSphere User Experience and Lotus K-station.

The new portal offering is divided into three tiered solution packages:

-- WebSphere Portal Enable Solution, a portal framework that gives enterprises the foundation for implementing highly personalized portals.

-- WebSphere Portal Extend Solution, which includes all of the capabilities of the Enable solution and adds integrated team room, instant messaging, extended search, community creation and Web site analysis capabilities.

-- WebSphere Portal Experience Solution, which includes all the Extend capabilities and adds advanced e-meeting, application sharing, enterprise content management and enhanced security features.

In addition, seven partner companies are developing portal applications, called portlets, to run on WebSphere Portal, including: The Brain Technologies Corp. for enterprise knowledge applications; Datamonitor for industry- and company-specific content; FatWire Corp. and Documentum for content management; Infisys Inc. for health care information management; River Run Software for mobile computing, and Citrix Systems Inc. for server-based application access and publishing.

Larry Bowden, vice president, e-portal solutions at IBM, said WebSphere Portal was a "horizontal platform" for integrating multiple types of portals on top of it, whether for business-to-employee, business-to-business or business-to-consumer.

"Were providing tools to allow customers to manage their [business] environments," said Bowden.

Bowden suggested that all corporate portals would soon run on application servers, like WebSphere.

"Portals have reached the point where theyre no longer glitzy interfaces with stovepipe connections to various applications. Theyve become mission-critical environments."

While WebSphere Portal borrows technology from existing IBM portal applications, those applications will not be discontinued just yet.

For instance, Lotus K-station, from IBM subsidiary Lotus Development Corp., will not be fully integrated into the WebSphere Portal framework as collaborative services until the first quarter of 2002, IBM officials said. For now, IBM is providing interoperability between K-station and the WebSphere Portal framework as part of the Extend and Experience Solutions. Customers can use the K-station user interface and workspace design to access the WebSphere Portal portlets.

WebSphere Portal will be available worldwide in November. The list price will be $55,000 per processor for the Enable Solution and $95,000 per processor for Extend. The Experience Solution is only available in a minimum four-processor bundle for $580,000.

Dennis Callaghan covers collaboration software and can be contacted at [email protected]