Hummingbird rises to the EIP occasion

According to Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, the enterprise information portal (EIP) software market is set to soar, and one Canadian company is getting ready for take-off.

North York, Ont.-based Hummingbird Ltd. has launched its next-generation enterprise information portal offering, EIP 4. Hummingbird touts its offering as a solution which addresses the needs of companies which are beginning to deploy portals at enterprise and departmental levels, according to a press release issued by the company.

Featuring the firm’s Web Update technology, network administrators are able to upgrade Hummingbird EIP deployments and install additional e-Clip plug-ins, enabling users to access new information sources and applications, according to the company’s press release.

The product’s new XML-based application interface enables Hummingbird’s Application Collaboration technology to create interaction between EIP and the applications and sources of information.

Other new features include what the company calls “tighter integration” with Microsoft Exchange and Outlook programs; support for scripting languages such as JavaScript and JACL to develop e-Clip plug-ins; and integration with Folio Views.

Robert Mahowald, senior research analyst with IDC, spoke with the company about its offering in a briefing.

“This is, I think, their attempt to extend beyond the document and content management space, and (its) realization that such functions in an enterprise setting require some kind of collaborations and smart collaboration around it,” he said. “So it’s not just keeping tabs on the document, archiving it and storing it…this is an extension to allow the ability of their customers – at this point, the primary and sole sales target is their existing customers – to do some collaboration around those documents.”

He noted that the impression he got from the company was that it has decided to target the business-to-business space, and not just the business enterprise space.

“They see themselves with this product in being what is generally called a team collaborative applications market with this particular product,” he explained. “But again, their target is to sell into portals to do worldwide extranet collaboration.”

He added that it is important to note the product is not real-time, but asynchronous. Hummingbird’s EIP, he explained, is more of a place to store business objects and documents rather a tool to use to actually work on things together in real-time.

EIP 4 is expected to ship at the end of the quarter, but it will face some competition. The enterprise portal market is full of a variety of companies specializing in products offering things such as content management, business intelligence (BI) and application integration.

IBM Corp. last month launched its WebSphere portal offering. Tibco Software Inc. in Palo Alto, Calif., recently launched its ActivePortal 3, a framework for integrating business information from both internal and external resources.

San Francisco-based Plumtree Software Inc. is also forging ahead with its recently enhanced Corporate Portal offering, which has added wireless functionality.

BEA Systems is on the map with its WebLogic product, and Chicago-based divine is making its mark with the launch of its Enterprise Content Solutions, which includes an enhanced version of the company’s Enterprise Portal Suite.

And these are but a few of the players in the market. According to a report from IDC (U.S.), the EIP software market is still in its infancy, but the adoption rate of the software is increasing at such a fast clip that the research firm expects the market to grow to US$2.4 billion in 2005