Hummingbird portal offers access to multiple repositories

Developers interested in Toronto-based Hummingbird Communications Ltd.’s EIP (Enterprise Information Portal) engine and XML-based public APIs can now download them free of charge.

The new Hummingbird EIP Developer’s Edition includes a single-user version of the EIP engine, as well as the tools and documentation needed to design and personalize corporate portal implementations before upgrading to the full product for enterprise deployment.

The full product – Hummingbird EIP 1.0 – is a fully-customizable Web-based workspace that lets users access, collaborate with, and take action using all of the information across an enterprise. Users can access information regardless of its location, the format in which it is stored, or even if the information is provided by different vendors.

The Hummingbird EIP is designed to provide a single point of access to all business-critical information and resources, including structured and unstructured enterprise data. And beyond access, the EIP works by connecting users to content in context, enabling them to process, filter and act upon information from any enterprise source.

“Our technology provides access tools to integrate with applications – not just information,” said Mohammad Murad, director of solutions, document and knowledge management solutions for Hummingbird in Yardley, Penn. “You have access to multiple repositories such as e-mail, a database, or a Web interface…it’s not just information out of the box.”

The EIP offers various features including: a unified search – completely transparent to the end user – which can execute searches that access all structured and unstructured data sources both internally and externally, and return a unified result; the e-Clip plug-in architecture enables the portal to grow with the organization through open, published APIs; an XML-based infrastructure designed to communicate with applications that work in conjunction with the Hummingbird EIP; multiple levels of user personalization providing organizations with the ability to preserve their corporate identity while allowing knowledge workers to customize their own portal pages; and application integration services which enable the EIP to provide users with a centralized, unified and consistent environment for interactions with all applications.

Carl Frappaolo, an analyst with the Delphi Group in Boston, said the Hummingbird EIP is unique in that it offers nine layers of functionality in a single portal.

“Their competitors may have partners with an equal level, but the Hummingbird portal offers more than nine levels of functionality in a single product,” he said. “Another strong feature is the integration layer provides the capability to link to various data sources from Web-based collaborative systems as well as a legacy database.”

Moreover, on March 14 Hummingbird announced an EIP designed specifically for the legal community. The Hummingbird EIP Legal Edition provides essentially the same services as the original EIP, only the Legal Edition is customized to deliver information from law-related news feeds, legal publications and research services to attorneys, law professors, legal secretaries, judges and other members of the legal community.

“We have built a Legal EIP framework which can be deployed across the entire firm so every attorney, including connected clients, could see instantly all the information that pertains to their case matter and influence their decision,” Murad said.

While catering to the legal community is a smart move, Frappaolo said Hummingbird’s long-term success hinges on whether or not the company can form strategic alliances with other organizations.

“They’re yet to garner partners and create a vertical alliance,” he said.

In Keith Berkland’s view, the Hummingbird EIP Legal Edition appears to be a sound investment and a reliable portal.

“We haven’t rolled it out yet and that’s no fault of Hummingbird’s or the EIP, we’re judiciously going through it,” said the applications development manager for the Dickstein Shapiro law firm in Washington, D.C. “What we have done is we’ve shown it to all the attorneys in our firm and they’re real excited to have it on their desktops as soon as possible…we have 650 users and we have knowledge stores all across the board…(the Hummingbird EIP) brings the whole interface together.”

The Hummingbird EIP and the Hummingbird EIP Legal Edition are priced at US$100,000. The Developer’s Edition can be downloaded for free from the company’s Web site.