Iona Likely to Extend iPortal Suite via Purchases

SAN FRANCISCO (04/03/2000) - Iona Technologies Inc. is already looking at adding further functionality to its five-component iPortal Suite by licensing and acquiring technologies. It may also buy companies outright not just for their technology but for their sales channels, according to the company's head.

Iona is best known for its flagship ORB (object request broker) Orbix, which is one of the five components of iPortal Suite. The bundle of software aims to help companies to build B2B (business-to-business) enterprise portals by creating new e-business applications very quickly out of their existing investments in software such as ERP (enterprise resource planning) and mainframe applications. Portals are Web sites that act as the first entry points to other resources on the Internet.

"It's possible that we may acquire technology and companies," Iona Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Chris Horn said in a phone interview today. "We may acquire a company not solely for its technology, but also for its sales and distribution channel. We have a reasonable amount of cash on our balance sheet for licensing and acquiring technology and a fairly healthy stock price." He added that Iona has no specific purchase plans at this time, but sees acquisitions as a way to grow its existing organization. New technology acquired would likely go into the iPortal Server component of the suite.

"Our aim (with iPortal Suite) is to provide a comprehensive e-business platform," Horn said. "We especially focus on application integration -- linking front-end applications to multiple back ends." The next logical step for further application integration might see Iona acquiring a company's technology or an entire firm in the areas of document management and knowledge management, which Horn called a "strong aspiration" for Iona. The company is also keen to develop integration with data mining and OLAP (online analytical processing) applications via plug-ins that can fit into the existing chassis of iPortal Suite, he added.

IPortal Server already draws on a recent Iona acquisition, that of privately-held U.S. XML (extensible markup language) specialist Watershed Technologies Inc., first announced in February. [See "Iona Banks On a Watershed Event for IPortal Suite," Feb 24.]Today, at the start of the company's Iona World user conference in Boston, Iona released two more pieces of iPortal Suite, the first two components having shipped last month. IPortal Server, the final component of the suite, will ship later this quarter, according to Horn. [See "Iona Rounds Out iPortal Suite," April 3.]"We're delivering on the promise we made 180 days ago" when Iona first announced its plans for iPortal Suite in October of last year, Horn said.

"IPortal Suite is a natural evolution of where we've been in the past in terms of application development and integrating software systems; it's an extension of our technology for the Net and e-business."

Iona, based in Dublin, Ireland, can be reached at +353-1-637-2000 or via the Internet at http://www.iona.com/. The company's U.S. offices are in Waltham, Massachusetts, reachable at +1-781-902-8000.

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