Enterprises tap XML

Attempting to simplify the process of pumping content into corporate portals, software vendor OnePage Inc. will roll out a content aggregation tool this week, designed to convert Web-accessible data into components that can slide into portals.

The software, dubbed Content Connect, extracts data from document-based systems and transforms it into an XML feed that can be reformatted for any portal interface.

The tool uses the company's Content Collection Language and Feature Extraction technology to identify and automatically pull content from legacy systems, partner sites, subscription services, as well as CRM (customer relationship management) and ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications, according to OnePage officials.

According to one analyst, because enterprises are struggling to tame an onslaught of information, finding an effective means of collecting content from internal and third-party sources is extremely useful.

"The content-extraction issue is a lot more important now as data proliferates both within the enterprise and outside. It becomes a lot more critical to isolate those elements that are germane to a particular user's needs," said Ed Maguire, industry analyst for e-business analytics at Merrill Lynch Global Securities Research and Economics, in New York.

Additionally, as corporations turn to portals to consolidate access to a variety of content sources, they must build a reliable feed of information to that portal platform, according to Maguire.

"One of the major value propositions of a portal is to be able to ensure that only the correct and relevant information is delivered to end-users. The ability to locate and extract this information automatically makes a convincing business case," he said.

Allowing corporations to create portal-enabled components from a variety of sources helps ensure the portal's effectiveness, said Michael Marubio, COO of Redwood City, Calif.-based OnePage.

"For a portal to be successful, it has to send the right information to the right people at the right time. This technology -- by leveraging your existing infrastructure to [tap into] partner sites, b-to-b sites, and legacy systems -- brings portals to their promise."

OnePage is offering its portal-building software as a stand-alone offering for enterprises with large portal installations as well as a possible integrated option in enterprise portal products from vendors such as Plumtree, Sybase, BroadVision, IBM, and Oracle. The technology's Java and XML-based approach allows easy integration with other portal platforms, OnePage officials said.

Tapping XML as the means of portalizing data will ensure a broad reach, Maguire said. "XML is the lingua franca of content interchange. Any solution that doesn't support XML for content metatagging will become obsolete very quickly," he said.

OnePage has announced the first customer deployment of its technology at Nikkei Business Publications, a large publishing organization in Japan. Nikkei has deployed Content Connect as a means of integrating content feeds from its various magazine properties into personalized portals.

OnePage plans to adapt its technology for publishing information to wireless devices. "Once we get [the content] into a neutral XML format, we can wirelessly enable the information as well. Just as you can extract content to make a [a component of a portal], you can also write it to a wireless gateway," Marubio said.

In a similar vein, enterprise portal vendor DataChannel plans to unveil an extension kit next month for integrating enterprise application data into the company's DataChannel Server XML-based portal. The DataChannel Server extension kit is designed to access data locked in enterprise applications, such as ERP and CRM, and legacy data stores. DataChannel's portal will leverage the EAI (enterprise application integration) connector to deepen integration with applications and systems, using it as a backbone to access rules for data extraction and management, said Eric Varness, director of product marketing at DataChannel, in Bellevue, Wash.

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