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IBM Airs WebSphere Portal

Armonk, N.Y.'s IBM Corp. Tuesday provided a partial answer to Siebel Systems Inc.'s recent refresh of its flagship e-business platform when it began rolling out enterprise software geared for constructing portals.

With the IBM Websphere Portal, Big Blue is trying to serve business-to-employee (B2E), business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) through one single portal access point. And while the portal, like most designed for the enterprise, is fitted to allow for collaboration among colleagues, it won't yet feature the capabilities that firms such as Siebel and PeopleSoft Inc. provide in e-business platforms; namely enterprise resource planning, (ERP) customer relationship management (CRM) and supply chain management (SCM).

But what it does offer, unlike singular products from other content management and portal providers (think Plumtree, Stellent), is a three tiered approach based on the company's realization that enterprises have varying levels of collaboration and communication requirements.

The portal packages are:

  • WebSphere Portal Enable, a basic, yet scalable horizontal portal framework providing enterprises the foundation for implementing personalized portals; the connectivity services allow users to access enterprise data, external news feeds, and applications from their business partners.
  • WebSphere Portal Extend, which includes all the capabilities of Enable and adds integrated team room, instant messaging, extended search, community creation and Web site analysis capabilities
  • WebSphere Portal Experience, which includes all the Extend capabilities and adds advanced e-meeting, application sharing, enterprise content management and enhanced security features

A logical evolution from Big Blue's previous portal offerings, including the firm's Portal Server, WebSphere User Experience and Lotus K-station applications, the WebSphere Portal initiative relies on WebSphere Application Server, IBM's core technology for Web-based applications.

IBM has also invited tech firms to develop applications, called portlets, for the portal; TheBrain Technologies Corp. for enterprise knowledge applications; Datamonitor for industry- and company-specific content; FatWire Corporation and Documentum for content management; Infisys Inc. for health care information management; River Run Software for mobile computing, and Citrix Systems Inc. for server-based application access and publishing.

WebSphere Portal will be available worldwide in November, with the list price at $55,000 per processor for Enable and $95,000 per processor for Extend. Experience is only available in a minimum four-processor bundle for $580,000.