Sybase readies test version of portal software

The next version of Sybase Inc.’s enterprise portal software is set to reach beta testers this month and promises new tools that enable enterprise developers and end users to build advanced applications that run inside a portal.

The beta version of Sybase Enterprise Portal 5.0 is set to be released to developers on Aug. 15, the company said Monday. It will compete against similar products from vendors such as Microsoft Corp. and IBM Corp.

A portal server allows organizations to create portal Web sites that can be accessed by employees, customers and partners. These portal Web sites can include a variety of applications that draw information from internal databases as well as from sources on the Web.

Among its new features, Sybase Enterprise Portal 5.0 will bring the debut of a new development environment called Portal Studio, which can be used by programmers and administrators to build and deploy applications that run inside a portal, also known as “portlets.” The tools are based partly on technology the company gained through its April acquisition of OnePage.

Sybase’s Portal Studio tools come with templates for commonly constructed portal applications, as well as information about building applications that make use of Java Server Pages (JSP), Extensible Markup Language (XML), databases and Web services, the company said.

Sybase Enterprise Portal 5.0 will also include an enhanced version of the Dublin, Calif., company’s Portal Framework, which also features OnePage technology. The Portal Framework includes a feature that allows end users to build their own portlets and add them to the interface they see when they sign in to their own portal view. By clicking on a “create portlet” button located on a panel inside that portal view, an end user can select content from the Web, link to it and automatically create a portlet that displays a current version of the information at all times.

“It really simplifies the portal-building process,” said Haridas Nair, director of the portal product line in Sybase’s e-business division. He called it “portlets without programming.”

The Portal Framework also adds to the portal server support for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), certificate-based authentication, hierarchical role-based access, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption and multi-level auditing and alerts, the company said.

With the release of Sybase Enterprise Portal Server 5.0, Sybase for the first time has also made its product compatible with application server software from competing vendors, including the open source application server Tomcat, BEA System Inc.’s WebLogic and IBM WebSphere, the company said.

“Although we have our own application server, some customers have made their own decision about what to use,” Nair said.

The final release of Sybase Portal Server 5.0 is expected in October, the company said. Pricing for the software won’t change from the cost of Sybase Enterprise Portal version 2.5, the current version, which is US$85,000 per CPU, according to Nair.