IBM sparks portal with 23 new partnerships

IBM this week plans to announce 23 new partner vendors to its program designed to deliver a diverse set of capabilities into its WebSphere Portal Server.

The partnerships with vendors such as Vignette, i2 Technologies, Information Builders, Divine, and Paybox.net bring a variety of application functions into IBM's portal offering via portlets, or snippets of code that provide pre-integrated application capabilities.

Adding to approximately 30 pre-existing portlet arrangements with partners, the new portlets bring tools and services in content management, business intelligence, wireless, CRM, e-commerce, search, and systems integration.

IBM's aggressive Portlet Provider Offering aims to give customers maximum flexibility when choosing services and applications to stitch into the WebSphere Portal Server, according to Tim Thatcher, program director for WebSphere Portals at IBM.

"We provide a robust product out of the box and provide a partner program to let customers integrate with third-party products," he said. "A portal is only as good as what you can integrate into it."

Moreover, IBM and other portal players are attempting to win over customers with efforts to ease potential portal deployment headaches.

"We recognise that people are deploying portals into existing environments where they have already made infrastructure decisions. The portal needs to integrate into that," Thatcher said.

The race to drive more functionality and ease of integration into the portal is likely to intensify as the market for corporate portals heats up. According to Giga Information Group, the portal market is expected grow from $US850 million in 2002 to $2 billion by 2005.

According to Giga analyst Laura Ramos, vendor agreements that can pack an array of pre-integrated portlets into a portal framework are an important trend in the portal space and something customers should look for.

"It gives customers a lot of choice in terms of things they could integrate into the portal or if they already have a product from a particular vendor, it makes it much easier to integrate," said Ramos, a director at Giga Information Group.

The 23 vendors joining IBM's Portlet Provider Offering are Amacis, AtHoc, BoostWorks, Convera, divine, EbaseOne, FinGO, FirstRain, i2, Information Builders, IntellectExchange, MyBubble.com, Netsize, Orsus Solutions, paybox, Presence On Line, Quiver, Rapidigm, SwissRisk, Tamalpais Group, Tridion, Vignette, and Xanboo.

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