IBM unveils slimmed-down portal software

IBM unveiled an addition to its WebSphere Portal product lineup, introducing an entry-level offering aimed at small and medium sized businesses.

WebSphere Portal Server, being announced Thursday, is a slimmed-down version of the more powerful WebSphere Portal Enable and WebSphere Portal Extend, the top of IBM's portal product portfolio.

Portal Server, which is designed to insulate IBM against entry-level portal offerings from Oracle and Microsoft, sells for US$2,500 for a 20-user pack or US$50,000 per processor. That compares with US$95,000 per processor for Portal Enable and US$130,000 per processor for Portal Extend.

IBM has been selling Portal Server online since July and will begin disk shipments starting Thursday, said Chris Lamb, WebSphere Portal market manager.

The product is targeted at businesses that want to build customized Web applications to be used in customer call centers, human resource departments, or other areas for the first time. The core functionality and simple licensing is designed to help customers get the sites up and running fast.

"Because of the stress and strain IT departments are under, they need to get products out quickly," Lamb said.

Core functionality includes integration with proprietary applications from companies such as Oracle, SAP, and BEA, as well as templates and personalization and customization features for team productivity.

It does not include more advanced features such as document repositories, integrated Web content management and instant messaging capabilities. Customers whose needs grow over time can easily upgrade to Portal Enable or Portal Extend, Lamb said.

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