Yahoo Aims at Enterprises

SAN MATEO (06/23/2000) - The corporate portal market will gain two new members with different approaches next week as Yahoo Inc. and Octopus.com Inc. make their forays into the business portal arena.

Yahoo will leverage its My Yahoo personalization technology and Web portal experience to create Corporate Yahoo, an EIP (enterprise information portal) that will contain both Yahoo content and corporate data.

"The fact that we have the stickiest page on the Internet, plus a global reach and applications we know people will use because they're familiar" will help the company make its move into enterprise portals, said John Willcutts, vice president and general manager of Yahoo Enterprise Services.

Corporate Yahoo links Yahoo servers with Yahoo Portal Builder, software developed in partnership with Tibco Software, which stays on the customer's side of the company firewall. Using sets of APIs provided by Tibco, enterprises will be able to hook corporate applications such as Lotus Notes or ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems into the portal, according to Yahoo.

Companies control the look and feel of their portal by choosing a template, which is partially filled with personalized Yahoo content such as weather or stock quotes. The template is then returned to Yahoo Portal Builder to include corporate information. This keeps the internal content of businesses secure, while Yahoo's personalization data is also kept private, Willcutts said.

Corporate Yahoo includes Yahoo Messenger for instant messaging and the Yahoo Companion personalized toolbar. It supports Solaris, Windows NT, and will soon run on HP-UX, said Willcutts. Yahoo will also add Single Sign-On and wireless features in the future, as well as voice-enabling the EIP.

Madan Sheina, senior analyst at Aberdeen Group, in Palo Alto, California, believes Yahoo's toughest hurdles will be overcoming its perception as a Web consumer portal and managing connections with corporate data sources. However, strong partnerships with enterprise integrators could shore up this potential weakness.

"Given the fact that a lot of the specialist portal vendors are looking to mimic a My Yahoo-like interface in terms of personalization, it seems a logical thing that Yahoo should move into that space as well," said Sheina.

Palo Alto, California-based Octopus.com will also launch next week with technology that allows end-users to gather information from various Web sites and present it in a personalized view. The company claims that its tools ease the creation and sharing of aggregate pages.

Unlike personalized Internet services such as My Yahoo, which store information on a dedicated server, Octopus.com software runs on the end-user's machine, allowing end-users to create a customized portal with information from inside a firewall and the Web, officials said.

The service initially will be aimed at consumers, but Octopus.com plans to build adapters for enterprise applications, such as SAP and PeopleSoft, and offer the service on a pay-per-usage basis by the end of the year.

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