Study: Oracle leads nascent portal software market

Enterprise portals are becoming ubiquitous, according to a new study by Jupiter Research: More than 80 percent of polled companies said they now have or will deploy within a year a portal site for their employees.

"Enterprise Portals: Selecting a Vendor," from Jupitermedia Corp.'s research unit, queried U.S. companies of varying sizes and in a range of industries on their portal software plans and purchases. Employee portals are the most active portal projects, according to the report: Sixty-four percent of respondents said they have one in place now.

Customer portals came in second, with 49 percent of respondents reporting a deployment, followed by portals for channel partners (29 percent) and suppliers (25 percent).

But the market share among vendors in the sector remains highly fragmented, according to Jupiter's data, which shows Oracle Corp. in the top spot, with its software accounting for 26 percent of product deployments. PeopleSoft Inc. holds the number two spot, at 19 percent, followed by SAP AG with 17 percent and IBM Corp.'s WebSphere, at 15 percent.

Oracle's lead is probably due to bundling, according to the report's lead analyst, David Schatsky, in New York. Oracle offers its portal software as a free add-on to its application server, he noted.

Jupiter's report cites software from IBM and Plumtree Software Inc. as the strongest products in the category.

Plumtree's position is indicative of how splintered the fledgling market remains, Schatsky said: Though widely regarded as a leader among pure-play portal software makers, the company's total installed base comprises barely 400 customers, representing around 5 percent of the total market.

A significant number of companies are still home-brewing their portal software. Jupiter's findings put the in-house development category at 8 percent of the total market, tied with Sun Microsystems Inc.'s ONE (Open Net Environment) Portal Server. That custom-development figure is probably skewed low, Schatsky said.

"Nobody has a dominant share of the marketplace," he said.

That means consolidation is likely, according to Jupiter. Schatsky predicts that those left standing will be the usual-suspect major players, such as IBM, Oracle, PeopleSoft, BEA Systems Inc. and Microsoft Corp., along with just one or two dedicated portal vendors, likely including Plumtree.

Since portals are infrastructure software intended to pull together corporate applications and data, it makes sense to stick with the vendor already providing your company's infrastructure, Jupiter recommended.

"When we asked people about their development plans and the key initiative, the most common one was to integrate new sources of data, content and applications into the portal," Schatsky said. "It's important to keep integration in mind when selecting a portal vendor, and to recognize that integration is going to be the key driver of cost."

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