Microsoft unveils enterprise portal

The Business Solutions division of Microsoft Corp. last week announced the availability of its Business Portal offering that will enable users to store and view data from a single Web-based system.

The portal integrates with Microsoft’s Business Solutions Great Plains and Solomon applications to provide users with information pages, standard reports and ad hoc data queries. According to the vendor, the product can be extended to external data sources and Web-based applications and can also be accessed via the company’s Windows Terminal Server.

The role-based model and browser-based delivery the offering provides are two of the main organizational benefits of the portal, according tot he company. The role-based model allows businesses to pinpoint various types of information to individual employees such as sales reviewing quotes or an executive reviewing reports online.

“The idea of the [role-based model] is to try and make the information systems, business analytics and the common information that employees generally would like to get out of systems more available,” said Garth Dean, general manager for Microsoft Business Solutions Canada in Mississauga, Ont.

The browser-based aspect allows information and processes to be delivered to employees through a Web browser with access to the company’s network. Built on the company’s .Net Framework, the security component helps to protect information and code against unauthorized access. As Dean explained, an employee can only access certain parts of the portal based on his or her role within the company. This is handled by the role-based security sub-system within the .Net Framework.

Microsoft will encounter traditional pure-play software portal vendors in the market, including Hummingbird Ltd., Novell Canada Ltd., Sybase Inc., Plumtree Software Inc. and Vignette Corp. But it is more likely that the company will battle with other enterprise application and integration vendors (also known as infrastructure vendors) that provide the infrastructure and links to Web services such as IBM Corp., BEA Systems Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Oracle Corp. The major distinction between the pure-play and infrastructure vendor camps is that by choosing the latter, a company is locked into that particular vendor’s platform.

The Business Portal is available to users of Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains 7.0 and higher or Solomon 5.0 and above that have a current enhancement plan. User access licenses are priced between $68 and $98 per user, based on the number of licenses purchased.

Microsoft Canada is online at

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