Iona Releases Final Piece of iPortal Suite

SAN FRANCISCO (06/26/2000) - Irish middleware software vendor Iona Technologies Inc. announced Monday that its iPortal suite is now complete with the release this week of the fifth and final piece of the suite -- iPortal Server.

IPortal Suite is a multi-platform suite of tools for building enterprise portals. Portals -- Web sites that act as the first entry points to other resources on the Internet -- continue to be a hot commodity in the market with companies scrambling to develop their own as rapidly as possible. An enterprise portal isn't purely focused on enabling online B2B (business-to-business) transactions; it can include B2E (business-to-enterprise) and B2C (business-to-consumer) capabilities.

"iPortal Server is the Web-facing component that aggregates and combines the features and functionalities of all the products (being used)," Ed Gaudet, Iona's vice president of worldwide marketing, said Monday in a phone interview.

The software ties together data from back-end applications such as databases, ERP (enterprise resource planning) and legacy systems and combines them with new business logic so that they can be reached on the Web from a single point of access. IPortal Server acts as a portal-access and control platform which can be configured by Web masters in terms of which users can see which data.

Gaudet said there will be three versions of iPortal Server -- standard, information and commerce.

IPortal Server 1.0, Standard Edition, will ship later this week with U.S. list pricing starting at US$50,000. The software will be available from Iona and the company's partners including Compaq Computer Corp. and systems integrators Englewood, Colorado-based Ciber Inc. and San Diego, California-based Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC).

In January of this year, Iona announced a partnership with Compaq which gave the U.S. computer vendor worldwide distribution rights to all Iona software on all platforms, Gaudet said. Compaq's professional services division is incorporating iPortal Suite into its NonStop e-business offerings, he added.

Iona and Compaq are working together on a version of the suite which will support Compaq's Tru64 Unix.

IPortal Server 1.0, Standard Edition, will run on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT and 2000 and Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris 2.7 operating systems, with support for Compaq's Tru64 Unix OS due in the third quarter of this year, Gaudet said. The software supports databases from IBM Corp., Informix Corp., Microsoft, Oracle Corp. and Sybase Inc.

Currently in beta testing, Iona expects to release the commerce edition of iPortal Server in the second half of this year. The commerce edition will expand on the plug-in capabilities of release 1.0 of the standard edition of the software to offer functionality such as inventory and order management, payment processing, profiling, search, auction and message board capabilities.

The information edition of iPortal Server will also appear in the second half of this year, Gaudet said. It will offer enhancements over the standard version of the software in terms of document management, calendaring, project tracking and meeting planning.

Iona first started talking about its planned iPortal Suite in October of last year and in March and April of this year released four of its five components:

-- Orbix 2000, the latest release of Iona's flagship ORB (object request broker), which is compliant with the Object Management Group's CORBA (common object request broker architecture) standard, is the basis of iPortal Suite.

-- iPortal Application Server can be best thought of as a place to hold component-based business logic and is compliant with EJBs (Enterprise Java Beans) and J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition).

-- iPortal Integration Server, effectively a repacking of the company's existing messaging products, is the application integration piece of the suite which gives users the necessary connectivity to develop and deploy B2B enterprise portals.

-- iPortal OS/390 Server provides developers with an e-business mainframe platform.

[See "Iona Rounds Out iPortal Suite," April 3 and "Iona to Release First Two Pieces of iPortal Monday," March 7.]IPortal OS/390 Server is a key differentiator for Iona, according to Gaudet.

"Eighty percent of the world's data is housed on OS/390 mainframes, many portals don't address that," he said. "Our OS/390 Server is critical to the success of our strategy."

Also important to Iona's success in the enterprise portals arena are a set of services the company includes with iPortal Suite, Gaudet said. A key example of this strategy was the company's purchase of U.S. consultancy Genesis Development Corp. for US$24 million last month. Of its more than 650 employees, Iona has 120 staff currently involved in consulting and implementation, he added.

Due to its integration with Iona's iPortal Application Server, iPortal Server can support the addition of third-party plug-ins so that features such as security and commerce services can plugged into the software as EJBs or integrated as complete third-party applications, according to the company.

Iona has already rolled into iPortal Server around 80 percent of the technology it acquired with the purchase of U.S. XML (extensible markup language) specialist Watershed Technologies Inc. first announced in February of this year, Gaudet said. [See "Iona Banks On a Watershed Event for IPortal Suite," Feb 24.]Iona, based in Dublin, Ireland, can be reached at +353-1-637-2000 or via the Internet at http://www.iona.com/. The company's U.S. offices, based in Waltham, Massachusetts, can be reached at +1-781-902-8000.

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