Portal plans target integration

Tapping its vast resources, IBM Corp. in early 2002 plans to rev up its WebSphere Portal Server, creating tighter links to the WebSphere Application Server and integrating content publishing, search, and Web services functionality.

Eyeing the portal framework as the solution to enterprise application integration woes, WebSphere Portal Server Version 4.1 will do more to leverage the WebSphere Application Server it sits on, said Larry Bowden, vice-president of e-Portals at IBM, in San Jose, Calif. “Portals are being seen as the answer to the integration problem across the enterprise. This is a CIO-[level] and CTO-level issue of how to solve the stovepipe problem.”

In addition to easing back-end integration, IBM plans to exploit the app server link to bring Web services to the user-facing portal environment. “More companies are looking for back-end integration, and that is where Web services will come through,” Bowden said.

Due in March or April 2002, the WebSphere Portal Sever Version 4.1 will be Web services enabled, featuring Lotus Software collaboration components SameTime and QuickPlace boiled down to Web services.

Although IBM will continue to partner for advanced content management and search, basic content publishing, and an intranet-specific search engine will become core elements of the portal. It will include reporting tools from Tivoli, enhanced personalization, and a copy of IBM’s Eclipse open-source toolkit. To boost the portal performance, Version 4.1 will be integrated with the WebSphere Edge Server and may tie into its grid computing effort to improve the portal availability.

Competitor Epicentric emphasizes its J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition)-compliance and years of product development. “The portal is an add-on for [IBM] – it is our focus. As a consequence the completeness of our portal offering is beyond what IBM ships in their portal,” said Ed Anuff, chief strategy officer of Epicentric in San Francisco.

But the ability of Web services to enable dynamic application assembly may shorten the race to construct the most function-rich portal, said Larry Hawes, senior advisor at Delphi Group, in Boston.