Oracle Announces Enterprise Portal Product

WASHINGTON (06/26/2000) - Oracle Corp. on Monday announced Oracle Portal, a new software product for building enterprise portals that will supersede the company's previous WebDB offering, taking over both its name and identity. The software is due to become generally available in the third quarter of this year.

Oracle Portal will offer companies a way to create a Web portal for their e-business needs that uses a simple framework to manage hundreds of different software services for employees, trading partners or suppliers, said Jeremy Burton, Oracle senior vice president of product marketing.

The software consists of WebDB's set of development tools for creating and maintaining a Web e-business portal and Oracle's Portal Framework, the technical infrastructure that allows for a variety of information sources and applications to be accessible through the portal.

Using Oracle Portal, businesses will no longer have to produce numerous Web sites for different audiences, and users no longer have to look in a variety of different places to get the information and applications they need, Burton said.

Oracle Portal represents the first example of second-generation corporate portal software to hit the market, said Philip Russom, director of data warehousing and business intelligence at the Hurwitz Group Inc. in Framingham, Massachusetts.

"The second generation is designed for real enterprise scope so hundreds or thousand of users, including many outside the company, can access a wider variety of information," Russom said.

Second-generation portals incorporate the "portlet" concept, which Oracle introduced in September of last year and which forms a central part of the company's Portal Framework strategy. [See "Oracle Sees Portlets Behind Corporate Portals," Sept. 22, 1999.]Oracle defines portlets as information sources and applications, including business intelligence reports, Web pages and XML-based news feeds, that can be aggregated and presented on the e-business portal interface.

It's relatively easy to connect applications and information sources that are stored in an Oracle database or application server to the portal, Russom said.

However, making the connection to data that's not stored in Oracle software is not trivial, he added. Oracle Portal will make it possible to accomplish those types of connections through Java wrappers and XML (extensible markup language) communications.

WebDB services, including single sign-on, security, search capabilities and personalization, are also part of Oracle Portal, as well as WebDB's Web publishing features, which allow users to publish and share information in real-time from any type of document or Web content while using the portal.

The personalization functions are important because, used at an enterprise level, there will likely be several classes of users with different needs, and the functions allow for the presentation of information to be tailored to meet the needs of a particular class, Russom said. Oracle Portal will also support single log on, meaning users are recognized when they first enter the portal and their security clearances are passed on to all sources integrated into the portal.

Russom added that Microsoft Corp., IBM Corp., Sybase Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. are all working on second-generation e-business portals, but Oracle is the first among them to announce a product.

Oracle has made a preview version of Oracle Portal available for free download from Oracle Technology Network. General availability of Oracle Portal is scheduled for the third quarter of this year.

Oracle, in Redwood Shores, California, can be reached at +1-650-506-7000, or at http://www.oracle.com/.

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