BEA draws up road map for portal apps

BEA Systems last week unveiled a two-year road map for combining its WebLogic Portal with similar software it gained with the acquisition of Plumtree Software in October.

Once completed, the integration will allow users to leverage a common set of services across portal and Web applications and provide an entryway for creating a service-oriented architecture (SOA).

Future versions of WebLogic Portal and AquaLogic Interaction (formerly Plumtree Corporate Portal) will allow users to share portlets and create components of common activities such as collaboration, search, content management, knowledge management and distributed publishing, BEA officials said.

The components will be available as services to users of both systems, according to BEA officials.

The integration plan also calls for a series of new products that can package the common services so Web applications can use them.

Substantial benefits

Pratt & Whitney, a manufacturer of aircraft engines, has 30,000 customers, partners, suppliers and employees using its extranet running on Plumtree's portal tool.

Though it doesn't use BEA's portal, Pratt & Whitney sees substantial benefits coming from the integration plan, according to manager of information service programs Colin Karsten.

For example, BEA's plans to provide common portlet components could save the company from having to write portlets on its own.

Karsten also welcomed the integration plan's focus on boosting search functions. "Search is a big deal to all of us today, especially in manufacturing," he said. "Customers use Google and Yahoo and have been trained to use search. They demand it wherever they go."

At Pratt & Whitney, the portal is used to buy products, check the status of orders in real time and access repair status reports, Karsten said.

Thomson Learning, a professional and academic testing company, is already building Web services that conform to the JSR-168 and Web Services for Remote Portlet standards that BEA will support in both portal products. Thomson uses Web services and portals from BEA and Microsoft to schedule tests with and transmit scores to its partners.

"The portal standards allow our services to be exposed not just through our own customer-facing portals but also through our customers' portals," said Christopher Crowhurst, vice president and principal architect at Thomson.

Thomson plans to use the new BEA portal features next year, he said.

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