Plumtree plans to empower portal users

As a growing number of vendors prepare to duke it out for supremacy in the hot market for corporate portals, vendors such as Plumtree Software Inc. are seeking to assure customers and partners of their long-term viability and financial strength.

At the San Francisco stop on its worldwide user gathering tour, Plumtree outlined product direction and strategy on Oct. 26 and affirmed its solid position in the market with news of a profitable third quarter reached on revenue of US$20.3 million.

In upcoming portal revisions and new product plans, the company intends to focus on deepening collaboration functionally and making it easier for business users to contribute content to the portal, according to Glenn Kelman, vice-president of product management and marketing at Plumtree, in San Francisco.

Forthcoming products include the Plumtree Collaboration Server, designed to unite collaboration Gadgets into a separate server, and Plumtree Studio, which allows portal users to create Gadgets without intervention from IT.

Leveraging collaboration and communities as a platform, the Collaboration Server will let Gadgets communicate with each other to form a workflow, allowing the portal be a place where business users do work, Kelman said.

“The portal will be about not just accessing content but creating content,” he said.

The Collaboration Server will reach beta form in November, with a final ship date of Jan. 15 of next year, officials said.

Meanwhile, the Plumtree Studio aims to let users develop Gadgets, which typically require IT muscle and days of programming to implement. The Studio will help reduce portal development bottleneck and speed deployment, officials said.

In addition, Plumtree outlined upcoming release plans for new Gadgets, which are designed to surface application functionality within the portal. Plumtree Gadgets that will deliver functionality for Lotus Sametime and QuickPlace are scheduled to be available in Alpha on Nov. 15. Beta versions of PeopleSoft 8.0 and Excel Gadgets also will be released on Nov. 15. Beta SAP 2.0 and Siebel Framework Gadgets will be rolled out in December, Plumtree officials said.

The Plumtree Corporate Portal 5.0, which is scheduled to debut in the third quarter of next year, will include deeper collaboration and self-service content creation capabilities.

The company recently sealed a US$2.5 million deal to supply portal software to the U.S. Air Force, which the military branch is using to coordinate data related to the Afghanistan air strikes.

The Air Force IT team has worked around the clock during the last several weeks to customize the portal into a logistics community designed to coordinate jet fuel logistics information, such as technical specifications, repairs data, where to find fuel, and how to transport fuel stores to where they are needed, according to Plumtree officials.