Plumtree pushes Web services connectivity

Plumtree Software Inc. on May 15 plans to take the wraps off a new version of its portal platform featuring expanded Web services capabilities and a unified code base for Windows and Java.

Building on existing SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) support in the portal, Plumtree Corporate Portal 4.5WS adds Web services-based extensibility to user authentication and content indexing. Using SOAP over HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), the new Crawler Web Services capability lets the portal connect to and index external document repositories via Web services.

Meanwhile, the Authentication Web Services function is designed to authenticate users from other directories to the portal, according to Phil Soffer, director of product management at San Francisco-based Plumtree.

“The good thing about Web services is that it gives us a path toward having some standards around how applications connect to portals,” he said.

Plumtree is actively involved in both the Java JSR 168 and the OASIS WSRP (Web services for Remote Portlets) standardization efforts, Soffer added.

Previous versions of the portal offered the ability to integrate application Gadgets and search engines to the portal via SOAP.

Web services are ushering in a major shift in the portal platform space, providing a better way to integrate with all the back-end information repositories and applications, according to Larry Hawes, senior business advisor at Delphi Group in Boston.

“To do SOAP over HTTP integration removes what has been one of the big hurdles in portal maintenance. That is, when you change a version of back-end app, you have to rewrite the connector to that application,” Hawes said. “This will simplify that process because you are now just doing calls to that resource.”

Furthermore, Version 4.5WS unifies the code base for its Windows and Unix versions, allowing enterprises to connect Java and Microsoft systems much more easily, according to Soffer.

“Most enterprises have both windows and Java-based systems, so giving them the ability to tie those systems together in a standards-based way is a quantum leap,” he said. “We are committed to integration with those warring camps.”

In addition, the new 4.5WS version includes enhanced search capabilities designed to streamline the administration of a search index by simplifying the process of refreshing the search index, re-indexing content, discarding broken links, and deleting old content, according to Plumtree officials.

Corporate Portal 4.5WS is available on May 24 on both Windows and Sun Solaris platforms.

Additionally, Plumtree on May 15 at a Web services and portals event in New York plans to publish the results of a portal scalability test conducted by Intel. The test focused on the impact of Web services on portal performance. The results found that Plumtree’s Parallel Portal Engine can scale up to handle thousands of Web services, according to Plumtree officials.