IBM and BEA expand portal offerings

BEA Systems and IBM broadened their enterprise portal frameworks this week with partnership agreements with technology vendors...

BEA Systems and IBM broadened their enterprise portal frameworks this week with partnership agreements with technology vendors and content providers respectively.

BEA and content management (CM) vendor FileNet signed a technology alliance to develop an integrated framework for building and managing content-centric applications.

Under terms of the alliance, FileNet will integrate its suite of CM products with the BEA WebLogic Platform, providing customers with a unified framework for creating and controlling the flow of content accessed through the portal, according to Michael Harris, senior vice-president of products and strategy at FileNet.

As the boundaries fall away from the once-distinct categories of document management, content management, integration, and process control, customers are starting to demand single-vendor solutions that provide the best of those capabilities so they can build content and process management applications, Harris said.

"Whatever unstructured content is not stored in a database needs to be presented to users, customers, employees, and partners, and the portal now is a mechanism for delivering that content," Harris said. "More importantly it is a workplace where people can come together over related content to make a business decision. That is why this is all coming together."

Specifically, the technology agreement between the two vendors will allow FileNet to receive priority treatment in terms of quality assurance testing and product road map alignment to ensure a common message to joint customers.

FileNet already has portal-related technology alliances with Microsoft, SAP, Siebel Systems and Plumtree Software. The company expected to announce more integration agreements in the first quarter of next year.

IBM meanwhile announced a slew of agreements with content providers designed to expand business news and information available in its WebSphere Portal software.

The agreements include content arrangements with the Financial Times and Pinnacor, both of which will offer complementary 30-day subscriptions for their services to WebSphere Version 4.2 portal customers.

Content providers Factiva, Tribune Media Services' FluentMedia, Lexis Nexis, Thomson Dialog's NewsEdge, and Nikkei Desktop of Japan are also creating portlets to link their databases more tightly with IBM's WebSphere Portal, according to IBM officials.

The new portlets allow portal users to easily access capabilities from back-end applications such as knowledge management, collaboration, and search from vendors such as Cognos, JD Edwards, Sapiens, and WebEx, IBM officials said.

In all, IBM added 53 additional software vendors to its portlet programme, bringing the number of WebSphere portlets from independent software developers to 400. IBM also has created 150 of its own portlets.

IBM sees the availability of out-of-the-box functionality provided by portlets as a key element in driving portal adoption.

The goal, according to Larry Bowden, vice-president of IBM portals solutions software group, is to make the portal upon installation "not just a framework, but a finished environment".

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