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Web services are promising to revolutionize the portal landscape, and various vendors are readying their offerings in anticipation, adding standards support and tools designed to simplify Web services creation and consumption.

Plumtree Software Inc. next week will release a new version of its portal platform. Building on existing SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) support in the portal, Plumtree Corporate Portal 4.5WS adds Web services-based extensibility to user authentication and content indexing.

Using SOAP over HTTP, Crawler Web Services allows the portal to index external document repositories. Authentication Web Services is designed to authenticate users from other directories to the portal.

Because Web services will fundamentally change how portals connect to back-end resources, vendors are seeking solid integration with standards and ways to add value to Web services connectivity, according to Nate Root, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., in Cambridge, Mass.

After infusing standards support, to continue to add value, portal vendors should look next to BPA (business process automation) technology to stitch together multiple Web services into a process, Root said.

"That stringing together of [services] into composite applications, that is the piece that nobody in the portal market has come out yet with a tool for," Root said.

Meanwhile, BroadVision next month plans to add Web services support to its portal via a configurable Web services portlet that allows the portal to consume Web services applications.

BEA's WebLogic Portal 7, due in June, will streamline portlet generation and tighten the integration between its WebLogic Workshop and portal to make it easier to build and consume Web services in the portal.

ATG for its part is developing plans to use Web services and forthcoming portlet standards with its Scenario technology to layer sequential tasks together into a workflow that allows a portal to adhere to a business process, said Ian Davis, product marketing manager at ATG, in Cambridge, Mass.

Also, IBM plans to release in June a new version of its portal that allows portlets to be published as Web services.

Tibco Software next week plans to expand Web services capabilities across its portal, EAI, and business process management products. The move is designed to ease the creation of Web services and incorporate Web services into business processes that span multiple platforms.

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