IBM Adds Lotus Features to WebSphere Portal

IBM Wednesday moved to
make its collaboration software more attractive to customers in a
increasingly competitive market with the announcement of WebSphere Portal’s
Collaboration Center, a destination with such perks as instant messaging,
Web conferencing, and people finder tools.


Enterprise portals let employees, business partners and customers access
information, collaborate and communicate across disparate systems in real
time via a Web browser.

To accommodate the increasing demand for sharing via
portals, IBM has turned to its Lotus software brand to provide features like
corporate white pages, organizational charts, instant messages, team
workplaces and virtual meetings.


Armonk, N.Y.’s IBM is considered a leader in the collaboration technology market and
competes with Microsoft, Oracle and portal providers such as Plumtree. These
companies are adding more functionality to dashboard-view-like portals
because customers are asking for the software they buy to be more capable of
handling group functions despite the spread of employees over many remote
offices.


IBM said the goal of the Collaboration Center is to help companies add value
to their global workforce by delivering collaborative portal software to
business users. Employees can communicate and share information across
offices, regions and lines of businesses in real-time fashion, one of the
emerging traits of Big Blue’s on-demand e-business push.


As previously
reported
, users can find colleagues in an organizational directory from
anywhere in the portal and contact them immediately. Users can also track
all the team workplaces they belong to and participate in online Web
conferences using the portal interface.


Three Collaboration Center portlets — extensions of a portal — will be
added to WebSphere Portal Extend and WebSphere Portal Experience. They will
include an online corporate white pages and navigation tool to find
employees; My Lotus Team Workplaces (QuickPlace) to create, search and
manage multiple worker groups; and Lotus Web Conferencing (Sametime) to let
users conduct online meetings. All three portlets come with Lotus Instant
Messaging (Sametime).


IBM’s portal vision has proved compelling for other software vendors as 46
have signed up to build portlets for
WebSphere Portal. Chief among these is Bowstreet, a former Web services
software player.


“As portals become a vital extension of business processes, customers need
powerful tools to quickly develop portlets for WebSphere Portal,” said
Michael George, CEO, Bowstreet. “This agreement expands Bowstreet’s reach in
the market while providing IBM with additional tools to extend WebSphere
Portal’s competitive advantage.”


The Collaboration Center will be available from the WebSphere Portlet
Catalog
in the second quarter of 2003.

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