Sybase personalizes enterprise portals

Emeryville, Ca.-based Sybase Inc.’s new software collection is intended to personalise enterprise-class portals for e-business by forging connections between the enterprise Web, end users and back-end applications.

“An enterprise portal essentially integrates the entire business environment, and presents it through the Web,” said Sybase’s Canadian technical manager, Anthony Antonello. “It allows companies to give their customers, their partners, and their employees a single gateway through a personalised interface and personalised content to the business applications they need in order to make informed decisions.”

Sybase’s Enterprise Portal (EP) is designed to develop and deploy enterprise portals – or gateways – providing access to both public and private data and applications residing on mainframes, other back-end servers and the Web, while creating a personalised Web experience.

According to Antonello, EP provides continuous availability, coupled with both implicit and explicit personalization technologies, systems management, security and integration to help companies migrate from fragmented and impersonal e-business environments to personalized business experiences.

One way in which businesses can migrate towards these new environments is to throw out all their existing legacy systems and build from scratch so their various technologies are “all Java-enabled and they all talk the same protocols and can integrate seamlessly with one another,” said Antonello. “If you’ve been in business 30 or 40 years, that’s a monumentally expensive and time consuming process. We’re allowing customers to migrate in a staged approach into the new customer-centred processing through the Internet.”

The software can automatically shift connections and users if a server or network fails, and is designed to run on clusters of servers.

The product’s versatility is in large part due to its accommodation of a variety of third-party software plug-ins, and not just Sybase’s own database and application server technology.

According to Antonello, the EP product is more of a bundling of existing products. “It’s not a brand new product per say. It is a bundling of some existing products with some connectivity to tie them all together.”

Sybase’s technology provides integration with third-party offerings like Apache Web server, publish/subscribe technology from Tibco, e-commerce software from Vignette, FatWire’s content management software as well as working with enterprise portal vendors like Plumtree and a variety of other third-party offerings.

“It’s more than a point offering. It’s really an (open) architecture where Sybase is saying we endorse various other participants with products to come in and join us, making the enterprise portal as effective for the end-customer as possible,” said Alan Goldman, a senior analyst with Boxborough Mass.-based Harvard Research Group. “What they have done is they’re allowing the end-customer a mechanism to integrate different systems – new and legacy and the databases across an enterprise. It’s an enterprise-wide integration architecture which is what they’re really providing.”

Nepean, Ont.-based Digital SpaceSystems Inc. (DSSI) migrated its technology to Sybase a few years ago and according to vice-president of technology, Darrell O’Donnell, found “the enterprise application studio…really provides a nice simple interface without sacrificing power. We’re able to do everything we did in Oracle with the Sybase solution.”

“I can see us a year from now, migrating overall to a Web application format, in which case we will be evaluating these third-party tools to figure out exactly what kind of environment we want to create,” continued O’Donnell. “A lot of our products right now are very site-specific. However we are developing applications that are a lot more generic where these personalization tool kits will be ideal. We would certainly be looking into the personalization capabilities, due to overall price point, simplicity and stability.”

For pricing and scheduled release dates, Sybase can be reached at