Both BP-Amoco and Ford have chosen Plumtree, the corporate portal supplier, to provide desktop user interfaces for hundreds of thousands of employees worldwide.
The multinationals are the latest corporate users to roll out "enterprise information" portals to unify the end-user view of popular desktop applications, such as e-mail, database, word processing and spreadsheets and provide access to a wide range of company data. Security privileges can be assigned to individuals, giving only relevant access.
BP-Amoco's implementation will see 50,000 end-users receive Edesk - a single Web-based tool for applications and resources. The implementation is scheduled for completion in 2001.
The portal implementation will cover BP-Amoco's upstream resource acquisition, downstream delivery, gas and power and chemicals units and will replace various existing department-level portals.
Ford is rolling out a Plumtree portal configured for different classes of employee worldwide. For example, engineers will have access to ordering data, materials and components test results.
Ashim Pal, of analyst Meta Group, said, "We see the portal as the next evolution of the GUI - it is an inevitable development.
"Unlike the desktop PC model where the user amalgamates the data source and applications they require, in a portal model the desktop is designed for the end-user as a task centre to suit their role. The momentum is towards real time working, with alerts specific to users based on changed information," he added.
Analyst Tony Lock of Bloor Research added, "The attraction is that because applications and data are held at central locations and maintenance at the client end is reduced, the cost of managing the system is brought down. It's like a return to the mainframe except that the front end is far more comfortable for the end user."
Plumtree portals can be configured to connect with a large number of environments using Gadgets, a plug-in component developed by the company.
Plumtree runs on Windows NT and requires Internet Information Server 4.0 as well as Oracle 8 or Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 for its database. The price of a Plumtree implementation starts at about $100,000 for 50,000 users.