Oracle Offers Web Services-friendly Portal Software

Looking to keep ahead of the curve in the software-as-a-service sector,
Oracle
Friday took the lid off of its new portal
enhancements
for Oracle9i Application Server, which are geared to integrate data
from
multiple data sources including Web Services, spreadsheets and Web
sites.


The features, dubbed OmniPortlet and Web Clipping by the Redwood
Shores,
Calif. software maker, take the customization and portal development
integration chores away from information technology (IT) departments
and
bestows them on end-users, making it possible for the not-so-tech savvy
to
customize content and integrate data via simple interfaces. Enterprise
portals are vital pieces of the business supply chain puzzle, as they
connect partners, customers and suppliers with crucial steps in the
business
process. They are used to consolidate Web sites and personalize
information
to provide employees with greater efficiencies.


While at first glance this would seem to place an added burden on the
end-user, Oracle assures the public OmniPortlet and Web Clipping
increase
productivity because IT workers save the time of putting the requests
through IT personnel. The tools also decrease the development costs by
association.


John Magee, vice president, Oracle9i Application Server marketing, said
OmniPortlet lets business users access Web services, XML, and
spreadsheet
data sources and publish them in various formats including reports,
forms,
charts and news, in the form of a portlet, which is a small window
displayed
within a portal page.


“This is the first-generation of smart clients that is Web
services-aware
out of the box,” Magee told internetnews.com.


How does this save time? Previously, the process for displaying Web
services
and other data through portlets was complicated because developers had
to
use standards such as Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)
and Web Service Definition Language (WSDL) to render
desired
data.


“Normally, when end-users need to see certain information, they may
file
request with the IT group, which gets it done in about three months,”
Magee
explained. “This eliminates the ‘Webmaster bottleneck.'”


Also with OmniPortlet, Magee said data that formerly needed to be coded
by
developers can now be pulled from almost any department in the company
by an
end-user to be transformed into a single report that displays all of
the
data in any format.


Accompanying OmniPortlet, the new Web Clipping feature makes it easier
for
portal page creators to capture content and functionality from internal
Web
sites and present them as portlets. In the past, developers had no way
to
centralize and integrate content pieces from different sources, such as
portions of Web site text, graphics and reports into a portal. With
Web
Clipping, a browser may be used as an editing tool that allows
Web-based
content to be extracted and quickly turned into a portlet.


Brian McDonough, research manager for Enterprise Portal Solutions at
IDC,
approved of the new Oracle tools and said “these new capabilities are
designed to make publishing information and applications less costly.”


Oracle made
it clear
at its OracleWorld conference last November that it would
be
revving up its Web services engines come April, but Friday’s
announcements
prove the company couldn’t wait to unveil some of its new wares. Rival
BEA Systems made back
in
November with its Liquid
Data
product
, which performs similar tasks for enterprise portals.
However,
Magee said, it is geared for much more technology-savvy programmers.


OmniPortlet and Web Clipping are currently available for download via
Oracle
Technology Network (OTN) and will be included in the upcoming release
of
Oracle9i Application Server.

News Around the Web