In addition to easing back-end integration, the company plans to exploit the application server link to bring Web services to the user-facing portal environment. "More companies are looking for back-end integration and that is where Web services will come through," said Larry Bowden, IBM's vice-president of e-Portals.
Due in March or April 2002, WebSphere Portal Server Version 4.1 will be Web services-enabled, featuring Lotus Software collaboration components SameTime and QuickPlace.
Although IBM will continue to partner for advanced content management and search, basic content publishing and an intranet-specific search engine will become core elements of the portal.
The portal will also include reporting and predictive analysis tools from Tivoli, enhanced personalisation and customisation features, event management functions and a copy of IBM's Eclipse open-source toolkit.
Bowden said Version 4.1 would be integrated with the WebSphere Edge Server to bring content closer to users. IBM also plans to tap its grid computing effort in 2002 to improve the portal availability. Similar to a utility grid, IBM's grid initiative could be used to shift computing resources to a portal.
"As the portal evolves to a mission-critical site in the enterprise, performance, scalability and guaranteed uptime become critical," said Bowden.