IBM makes portal play

IBM on Wednesday unveiled a portal server and portal building applications for businesses.

WebSphere Portal Server is built from a modified WebSphere applications server. Designers can use the system to build customized portals, from business-to-employee internal networks to business-to-consumer or business-to-business service portals, drawing from a variety of data sources.

An IBM executive said the company is developing a portal strategy in response to both perceived potential and the wishes of its customers. "Sometimes a set of customers beats you over the head with it, saying we want a portal," said Larry Bowden, vice president for e-portal solutions at IBM. "We have a level of demand from customers, where they see portals can play a role in the fundamental processes in their business."

The portal uses modular applications called portlets, allowing designers to build custom features into the final product. Some portlets enable wireless access to the portal or access by PDA (personal digital assistant), while others can tap into internal data stores or Internet news sites. IBM has content partnerships with the content distribution houses Factiva , ScreamingMedia and iSyndicate., as well as the business background information company Hoover's.

The portal will also integrate knowledge management and collaboration software from IBM's subsidiary, Lotus Development Corp.

IBM adopted a dual-pricing track for the portal server, at about US$50,000 per processor, or a range of $8 to $250 per user.

IBM, in Armonk, New York, can be reached at +1-914-499-1900 or http://www.ibm.com/.

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